The destruction of the Amazon, explained

The destruction of the Amazon, explained

“And in South America tonight, an environmental problem of a much greater magnitude.” “The destruction of the Amazon rainforest.” “A worldwide disaster.” In the 1980s, the world learned that the Amazon was in danger. “Trees are falling at a startling rate…” “77,000 square miles…” “… an area twice the size of Belgium…” “…the size of New York State…” “…the size of California, disappears.” And why it was so important to save it. “One-fifth of the oxygen we breathe.” “20% of the world’s fresh water.” “Half of the species of life on earth is in these forests.” “…An ecosystem the entire world needs for its survival.” By the 1990s, it seemed like it was too late. “The destruction accelerates.” “More than twice as fast as previously believed.” “Virtually impossible to control.” “Once it is gone, it is gone forever.” Then, something changed: “The annual destruction rate of the Amazon rainforest has dropped… …by 70%.” “The lowest rate of deforestation since records began.” “The Amazon could achieve the end of deforestation. A huge accomplishment.” But in order to keep it safe, there
was one condition: “Protecting the forest is a continual process.” “Brazil will need to stay vigilant.” But it didn’t. “The Amazon is burning.” “Consumed by fire.” “Fires have been raging.” “Thousands of fires are blazing…” “…as more and more trees are cut down.” “Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest hit its highest rate in a decade.” Today, the Amazon is being destroyed, all over again. The question is: Can it be saved this time? The first wave of deforestation started in
the 1970s. That’s when Brazil’s military regime saw
the potential for profit deep in the Amazon. There were almost 5 million square kilometers
of rainforest filled with natural resources. “Amazonia’s ores and minerals, food, fiber, and forest resources are vast.” But most of it was inaccessible. So the government started building the Trans-Amazonian Highway an ambitious project that would run for 3200 kilometers connecting remote
parts of the rainforest. At the time, most of Brazil’s population lived in the southeast; in cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. And the government wanted to move people out
here – to cultivate the land and grow the economy. So they offered free land along the highway
and paid Brazilians to settle deeper in the rainforest. And they sparked a land rush. As the road advanced, settlers followed, rapidly clearing the forest around it. Most of them turned the land into pasture,
where they raised cows to sell as beef. And when these ranchers needed more land,
they seized another plot, cleared it, and moved their cattle in. This expansion deeper into the Amazon drove up deforestation. Between 1978 and 1988, an average of over 20,000
square kilometers were cut down each year. Over time this area became known as the Arc
of Deforestation. And soon, a different product pushed this
even further. People around the world were eating more meat, decade after decade. That trend raised the need for more soybeans; which served as high-protein feed for farmed animals. This created a huge opportunity
for countries most suitable for growing soybeans, and Brazil cashed in. Soybean exports from Brazil shot up in the
mid ’90s, boosting the economy. By the early 2000s, farmers took over these
pastures and turned them into massive soy farms. Like this one, in Acre state. And the ranchers who sold their pastures,
moved their cattle further into the rainforest, clearing more of the Amazon, often illegally. This aggressive expansion created a profitable
pattern in the Amazon. But it came at the cost of the rainforest. By the early 2000s, Brazil’s beef and soy
industries were driving a booming economy, as well as unprecedented rates of deforestation… Which caused this arc to expand further north. The staggering deforestation in the Amazon
attracted fierce resistance from environmental groups. “An area of ancient forest, the size of a football field is destroyed every two seconds.” The Brazilian government, under president
Lula da Silva, finally stepped in. This is Marina Silva. She was Brazil’s Environment Minister in 2003,
when she helped craft a plan to stop deforestation. It started with the government expanding the amount of rainforest under protection. At the time, only about 28% was protected, and there was very little oversight. But this new plan added more reserves, where business activities were strictly banned, and also created more sustainable-use reserves,
where some businesses, like Brazillian nut harvesting and rubber-tapping, which didn’t destroy the rainforest, were allowed. More land was also demarcated for indigenous
people, who preserved the forest. Over time, hundreds of new protected lands
were added, transforming the Amazon into a shared and sustainable space. Eventually, almost half the Amazon would be
put under some form of protection, while the rest of it remained a mix of pasture,
farms and rainforest. To prevent further deforestation here, the government strengthened the Forest Code: which said landowners could
only clear 20% of their private land. This law was monitored by the Forest Service,
which was part of the Environmental Ministry, which had jurisdiction over all of these protected lands. And the key to enforcing this entire plan
was strengthening IBAMA: a police agency that would track and fine people for illegal deforestation. And the plan showed results: with deforestation rates falling by more than half in 2006. At the same time, an activist movement was
forcing the agricultural industry to make a change. Major food companies started feeling pressure
from consumers for participating in deforestation. So several got together, and in 2006, signed a Soy Moratorium: which meant they could continue to operate within existing farms, but they wouldn’t buy
soy from any newly deforested land in the Amazon. Three years later, beef companies signed a
similar agreement. Other countries also gave Brazil money to
help it protect the Amazon. Under all this protection, deforestation rates
plummeted to historic lows. And yet, Brazil’s soy and beef industries
continued to grow, thanks to more efficient techniques: Ranchers started growing crops on their existing
pastures. And farmers planted two crops a year on their
land instead of one. Brazil had found a way make to Amazon both
productive, and protected. But there were some who still wanted it to
be a more profitable place. The ruralistas, a group of conservative politicians who represent the interests of the agricultural industry, including farmers and ranchers, started gaining influence in Brazil. In the early 2000s they had about 17% of the
seats in congress. But by 2012 they had about 30%… Enough power to push President Dilma Rousseff
to weaken the Forest Code, which allowed landowners to get away with clearing more land. In 2016, they pushed President Michel Temer
to slash IBAMA’s budget. They also helped him pass a law that made
it easier for people who illegally seized land in the Amazon, to keep it. These changes emboldened some people to seize and clear the rainforest again. And that led to a rise in deforestation rates. In 2018, as the ruralistas controlled 44%
of Congress, Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing congressman and ally to the ruralistas, was elected president. On his second day in office, he transferred
the forest service, which monitors the forest code, to the agricultural ministry
– led by a ruralista. He’s also worked to systematically weaken
the Environmental Ministry. Under Bolsonaro, deforestation has increased
significantly in 2019, most of it taking place in these protected
areas. Setting fires is a common way to clear land… And in August 2019, over 30,000 fires were
burning in the Amazon: Three times as many as in August 2018. Many set illegally by ranchers, farmers, and
landowners, emboldened by the government’s new stance on the Amazon. But this time, the Amazon is unlikely to survive
another wave of deforestation. In the last 50 years, it’s estimated that about 17% of the Amazon has been deforested. A 2018 report estimated that, if it reaches
20-25%, the whole rainforest could start to collapse. It wouldn’t be enough to cycle all the
water it needs, causing trees to die. And that would release a huge amount of carbon
dioxide into the atmosphere, further warming the planet. But in Brazil, many politicians and agricultural
businesses continue to ignore the science for the sake of profit. Clearing the Amazon for short-term gains overlooks the fact that the planet as we know it wouldn’t exist without this rainforest. It’s why this place was saved
once before. Thanks for watching this special edition of Vox Atlas. This is one of three that we produced on the Amazon. And this one was about the drivers of deforestation and and some of the Brazilian politics surrounding the current crisis today. In the next one we’re going to take a step back in the history We’re going to meet a man named Chico Mendes who led the original fight to save the Amazon, back in the 1980s. His story is super interesting and very relevant to today. So make sure to come back and watch more Vox Atlas in the Amazon.

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100 thoughts on “The destruction of the Amazon, explained

  1. Thanks for watching Vox Atlas in the Amazon. This is episode 1 of a 3-part series all about the world's largest rainforest, why it's in jeopardy, and the people trying to save it. Make sure to come back tomorrow for Episode 2! -Sam

  2. this world will one day become a empty place ! and ppl will realise that nature – did not belong to themselves
    they were only part of it ! ( thnx for sharing Vox )

  3. We, as consumers, are as much to be blamed for the deforestation. Its obvious one of the major causes is our increased consumption in red meat. Companies will follow our level of demand so only when we drastically reduce meat consumption will there be less issues of deforestation.

  4. It seems like they want short term economic gain as well as long term environmental and human loss, as long as they are short-sighted.

  5. The greed, Ignorance and arrogance of man has no bounds.
    Let this continue, nature will take it's own course of action. It's happens so in the most horrendous and gruesome way. That's the only way can this human be taught.

  6. I thought to do this comment in english, but i chose to do it in the language that i can express myself better.
    Durante o crescimento do desmatamento ocorrido neste ano, vários jornais e divulgadores científicos, maioria destes biólogos, utilizaram de dados disponíveis por entidades ambientais como o INPE (instituto nacional de pesquisas espaciais) para formar um panorama a respeito do desmatamento no Brasil – para quem se interessar, sugiro assistir ao vídeo do Pirula entitulado "Caos em Rondônia", em que fala sobre um estado próximo ao Acre que foi coberto pela fumaça das queimadas em agosto.

    Alguns fatos que julgo serem interessantes ao tema:
    O diretor do INPE foi exonerado por Bolsonaro em agosto, após a divulgação dados de desmate, informação pública e de acordo com o que outros meios de medição apontam, mas que segundo Bolsonaro "O INPE mentiu sobre os dados de desmatamento e agiu a serviço de alguma ONG".
    Em 2005 houve um aumento considerável de desmatamento, resultado de alguma questão regulatória que não me lembro ao certo, mas que pode ser encontrada no vídeo citado acima.
    Em 1967, durante o governo militar, foi criada uma zona econômica especial na cidade de Manaus, capital do Amazonas, que reduzia os impostos para indústrias que se instalassem na região. O plano foi ampliado, hoje atingindo quase toda a região norte, porém não foram feitos os devidos investimentos na infraestrutura necessária para o transporte de mercadorias e a região exporta principalmente para o próprio país.
    Um problema visto na quantidade de terreno que deve ser preservada é a falta de conectividade entre faixas de terra, criando "ilhas", que isolam animais.
    Marina Silva concorreu a todas as últimas eleições a presidente, mas sem chance de ganhar.
    Na onda de desmatamento atual, tem se ouvido falar sobre grilagem. Um fazendeiro queima uma região, utiliza um documento falsificado e envelhecido através de um processo envolvendo grilos, reivindica legalmente a terra e por falta de dados, não há como saber se a terra de fato é dele ou é uma reserva que foi desmatada.
    A crise ambiental do momento é o petróleo derramado por um navio grego próximo ao litoral nordestino. O ministro do meio ambiente só sabe dizer que o petróleo é venezuelano (realmente é, mas saber isso não vai ajudar na limpeza das praias) enquanto o ministro da pesca (antes disso não fazia ideia de que havia um ministério da pesca) disse que "o peixe é inteligente, ele vê uma mancha de óleo e desvia", tentando dizer que estava tudo bem consumir peixes de áreas contaminadas. Há um programa chamado Greg news (vulgo last week tonight tupiniquim) que fez um episódio sobre isso.

  7. 10:46 He who would like to see more forest land transformed to farm should teach his grandchildren to stop breath oxygen.

  8. How are we, as a species, so ignorant to literally be sealing our demise? We are all collectively thinking someone else will handle this while our world burns.

  9. one thing people need to understand is that an increasing population will demand more consumption. decreasing our birthrates will decrease consumption.

  10. If you aren't from Brazil… Just ignore President Bolsonaro noisy fans, the majority of them don't even believe in science.

  11. Yeah, deforestation is a big problem, but 2 things bother me a lot:

    1- Americans who have exterminated 99% of all natives in north america and cleared almost all of the natural forest for profit, now nosing about other countries who are doing the same. Kind of hipocritical.

    2- The fact that this is happening in Africa at ABSURDELY higher rates, and no one cares, no one says anything about it… Madagascar is almost cleared, it's incredibly absurd

  12. If you know the story of rats colony collapse then you will understand we will not be spared from the collapse. Yes go ahead destroy, the end is near anyways

  13. Brazil is a member of the International Monetary Fund, the WTO, the world bank, and the United Nations, among others. Most people seem to agree that countries shouldn’t just be able to tell other countries how to run their own affairs, but if the other members of those organisations cant put justifiable pressure on Brazil to stop this, or do it for them, then what’s the point of those collectives?

  14. Brazilians as a nation are suffering from the lack of farmable land. It is easier to point the fingers when you are not the ones starving or paying the price.

    If Americans do not even want to pay a fuel price difference to stop the middle eastern bombings, who are they to tell Brazilians what to do? There goes your western hypocrisy.

  15. Stop buying everything that is grown here. And international communities should impose more sanctions on any stakeholders out there who is causing deforestation and might be Brazil's government too should be punished according to international law. You see these days strict rules in Nepal🇳🇵, is increasing the proportion of forest in Nepal. We have to implement different measures now for our better tomorrow and mother Earth's good health which is home to all of us.

  16. “We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.” – Charlie Chaplin

  17. Yo, if you think putting pressure on people in SA will change anything, you better get prepared for some serious resistance. Instead, look at your own backyard. Where did all of YOUR forrest go? Plant some trees, get your farmers to grow plants, and stop eating animals and supporting that industry. Deal with your own backyard…

  18. Deforestation is happening because of overpopulation. It doesn't matter if you go vegan, people still need space to farm plants. Overpopulation is happening because of welfare. Vox won't talk abt it.

  19. 10:39
    i would like to see this farmer's reaction face when someone will set his farm on fire saying farmer's own words: if it is being destroyed, if that's people's goal, it should be destroyed.

  20. Just want ya’ll to know, Australia has burned 5 times more trees than the amazon ever did and it’s not summer here yet…

  21. If the Brazilian Government acts in such a way that is driven by economic rewards, then if there is an international effort to reprimand Brazil for this deforestation they would stop.

    Companies such as McDonald's, Burger King and other agricultural industries should, in theory, stop buying from Brazil, but it's up to us, their customers, to apply that sort of demand.

  22. If someone tried to use a "God" excuse on me after they did a bad thing. I would just kick them and be on my way

  23. What About the unreported Africa. 3 times more forest burned this year (2019) than the Amazon. What about Europe which had the most fires on record. What about Siberia which, normally near freezing in the summer was up to 30 degrees and suffered absolutely enormous fires. Revelations 8.7. Interestingly chapters 9 through 19 mention a lot. So many earthly catastrophes are presented in the way knock on effects of climate change will progress. It won't stop.

  24. Dude, the recent bushfires in NSW Australia have burnt much more forest than in the Amazon! Why won't you put more focus on us?

  25. brazilian here. This video was well done, but I'd like to point out the fact that there were only two countries (Germany and Norway) contributing for the Amazon fund. So if you want a country that has it's economy based on agriculture to mantain the forest, among other measures, the developed world has got to contribute. Of course sustainable development is possible, but Brazil goes through A LOT of economical issues, so help is necessary.

  26. Well stop buying from brazil.. no meat no wood no nothing. Dont give them the motivation to destroy the amazon… I dont expect most brazilians to have the propper brains to grasp what they are doing but one can try.

  27. one thing everybody can do to reduce this cataclysm is eating less meat, if we all drawback on our meat consumption, we will have an impact on the industry in the long term

  28. Wait till mother nature destroy the scums og the earth..HUMANS..just like what it did to dinosaurs..eating everthing.being superior
    By the way do you know that amazon forest nutrition comes from sahara dessert?

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