The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Amazon Forest Fires and Our Survival

Sep 2, 2019

Nearly 40,000 fires are incinerating Brazil's Amazon rainforest. These fires have already charred approximately one million acres of the rainforest only this year. Because of such fires over the past twenty years 12 percent, or about 93 million acres, of Amazonian forest has disappeared.

Almost all the Amazon fires result from human actions, either on purpose or by accident, according to the scientists tracking these fires. This deforestation is largely due to land clearing for agricultural purposes, particularly cattle-ranching but also soybean production. Since big farmers need a massive amount of land for grazing and farming, they continuously clear forests to expand the pastureland for their cattle and crops.

Agriculture has been the strongest performing business sector of Brazil’s economy in recent years. In addition to cattle-ranching, soybean exports, particularly to China, play a crucial role in this modernized and mechanized agribusiness. Because of the U.S.-China trade war, China raised tariffs for U.S. soybeans. That gave Brazil incentive to further increase the level of its soybean growth, which could make it the world’s biggest soybean exporter, surpassing the U.S. In turn, this increasing soybean demand has created additional pressure to rapidly clear forests and plants.

When criticized for allowing such profit-driven charring of forests, Brazil’s president Bolsonaro said, “The Amazon is ours,” and added, “No country in the world has the moral right to talk about the Amazon. You destroyed your own ecosystems.”

Bolsonaro’s narrow-minded blurt is not an excuse to consciously and intentionally destroy the Amazon for profit. But, such destruction is not limited to the Amazon rainforests. Last year, the world lost about 30 million acres of tree cover, including 8.9 million acres of primary rain forest, an area the size of Belgium, according to data from the University of Maryland. Once agribusinesses clear the forest land by torching, the mining of the underground resources becomes another target, further fueling the destruction of forests.

Such a narrow, self-centered and greedy mindset, agreed among and propagated by the corporations and their defenders like the Bolsonaros of this world, provides further fuel and provides an incentive for destroying the world’s natural resources, on which our survival depends.

The Amazon is called the ‘lungs of the world’ because it produces 20 percent of the world’s oxygen. If these lungs stop functioning, we are dead. Thus, the Amazon belongs to the world and its working people, not to only one country or solely to the rich.