I read in the news today that G7 leaders were putting their heads together about how much it was going to cost to put out the fire in the Amazon forest.
Apparently the figure they’ve come up with is too low.
Thing is we all know that Bolsonaro is keen to cut up as much forest as it takes to keep him in power.
Made me wonder if given Bolsonaro’s intentions any amount of money would be effective.
I also keep reading these headlines about how we’re at the stroke of midnight if we want to save the environment.
But really the clock has already struck its final gong. In Spain, on New Years Eve, they eat one grape for each of the twelve chimes. That twelfth grape was digested and pissed out a long time ago.
What we are experiencing now is the escalating warming of the planet, and there is nothing that is going to stop that over the course of the next hundred years.
Western governments, besides burning all their own trees a long time ago, have been intent on moralising to Brazil, without really doing anything about it.
The Amazon Rain Forest are the lungs of the world, says the west. For Brazilians they are a passport to great riches or at least a way out of poverty.
Brazil a while back said to the west if you care about the Amazon being the lungs of the world, then pay us to keep them. That is, give us the money that we would otherwise make by exploiting the land and resources. But the western world didn’t put its money where its mouth was.
The Amazon Rain Forest has been cut and burned for years; it has been diminishing in size for years; and no-one in the western world has cared sufficiently to find a solution to the problem.
It is too late now.
In Brazil, we need to acknowledge that Bolsonaro, the kind of cretinous bully that everyone apart from the most obsequious despised at school, is really the inevitable final chapter in the story.
There’s very little anyone can do to stop Bolsonaro and continually deconstructing, critiquing and bemoaning him is not going to solve anything.
The question is what happens next: once the Amazon has been reduced to a cinder, and the water and temperature continues to rise.
The most realistic prospect will be the impoverishment of billions and billions of people. That will produce a level of desperation that will result in the rich orchestrating a genocide of those desperate enough to beg, borrow or steal some of the dwindling pie.
The current strategy of the last fifty years, moralising, has allowed problems to build up to an extent that make this option redundant.
The only way in which environmental regression can be arrested is through a fundamental global cultural shift in how people relate to each other and the global population.
Politics, whether democratic or otherwise, needs to be organised with the focus on everyone being able to lead a dignified life. The earth’s resources need to be shared and utilised accordingly. This in turn will require a shift away from greed and a more temperate attitude towards wealth generation.
Much of this depends on transforming the mentality of the billions of people, on whose assent dictatorships and democratic governments depend. We can see how the experience of poverty, together with a lack of education and the politics of fear and division and greed, create an environment in which many of the world’s poor people elect leaders, who act against the common interest and often in the interest of many of the people who vote for them. Part of the problem is that human nature by and of itself can too easily be seduced by the politics of hatred and violence, which gives people who find life difficult the opportunity to feel like they are on the winning side (even if things end up differently).
We need to transform the cultural, spiritual and material state of the body politic so that the politics of greed and division can no longer flourish.
If the twenty-first century is to be the century where environmentalism rises to the forefront, then it needs to be preceded by a politics which transforms the animal spirits of the billions of people who live in the world. This requires that people develop trust in political systems, and in people who they do not know, in a way that exists or has existed in some societies, but which currently does clearly not exist in others.
Brazil, with its privately enclosed palaces for the wealthy and its favelas and ghettos is a really good example of a society, in which trust is low. The way in which the United States, and the CIA in particular, has manipulated South American democracy, sometimes getting rid of it, in order to ensure that it can extract as much resource from the countries as possible, arguably creates distrust between Brazilians and the moralising west. Bolsonaro is an idiot; but only from the point of view of someone who has hope. I feel he has tapped into a nihilistic feeling that many people who have lived with years of poverty, corruption, ineffectiveness and illegal American intervention have developed. It is ironic that the very same people are voting for a man who is going to make things even worse for them. But after a while, a neglected adult, like a neglected child, gives up and ‘who cares?’ becomes a resonant political message.
The existing neo-liberal or so called middle of the road social democratic frame helped create Bolsonaro; they wrote the book for which Bolsonaro is the final chapter. They provide no solution. The key stepping stone to a new world order that sees environmentalism take a front seat requires a shift in how the billions of people in this world conceptualise and feel about each other, and requires institutions that engender trust and working together for a common interest. This in turn requires that we create systems which give everyone the opportunity to lead a dignified life. In the absence of any realistic pathway to this point, I can only conclude that once the last ember of the burned forest dies out, things will only get worse.