As an immigrant born in Brazil, I’ve always felt a closeness to the lungs of the world, as the famous Amazon rainforest is known. This summer, I had the privilege to meet and talk with Amazonian Wao-Rani queen Nemonte Nenquimo of Ecuador, when she visited San Francisco. Queen Nemonte was here to talk about just how urgent deforestation and climate change are in the rainforest, and about oil companies’ malpractices in the region.
Queen Nemonte’s urgency is apropos. The deforestation of the Amazon means the displacement of people and the acceleration of the earth’s environmental emergency. Now, those lungs are clogged with smoke. The smoke of more than 72,000 fires covers nearly half of the country and has begun to spill into neighboring Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay. The French and German governments are calling the situation an international crisis.
I grew up knowing from a very early age, the Amazon is integral to the health of the planet and humankind, playing a crucial role in our global ecosystem. Half of the world’s remaining rainforest is in the Amazon. While deforestation has slowed from its peak in the 1990s , when an area larger than California was decimated in just a couple of years, the Amazon rainforest is still shrinking. The practice of clear-cutting has increased 80% ([link removed]) under President Jair Bolsonaro . And as the Amazon shrinks, so too does its capacity to take in atmospheric carbon dioxide and release much-needed oxygen (of which the Amazon rainforest produces 20% of the world’s supply).
** What can we do
The Earth’s lungs are hurting. Deforestation is a result of our economic system’s constant need for profit, sustained by incessant consumption of resources and labor. We need to protect the forest still standing: it plays an essential part in slowing the effects of greenhouse gases.
Our elected officials acknowledge that climate change is real, yet the Democratic National Committee this week voted against allowing 2020 candidates to participate in a climate debate, despite support from the Sunrise Movement and candidates Elizabeth Warren ([link removed]) and Beto O’Rourke ([link removed]) . At the same time, President Trump skipped the Climate Crisis and Amazon Fires talks at the G7 conference.
But there are things we can do. This week, I dropped in on the Sunrise Movement's Bay Area Summit meeting, one of their largest training events yet. I met passionate young people from all over the country getting ready for the #GlobalClimateStrike. Visit the Sunrise Movement website and make a pledge to participate ([link removed]) on September 20, 2020.
** Time to stop fiddling
Legend has it that while a fire destroyed the city of Rome, the emperor Nero played his violin rather than looking after the welfare of his citizens and his empire. Since then, ‘fiddling while Rome burns’ means to be irresponsible and focus on trivialities during an emergency. The climate crisis is an emergency, and Congress is fiddling.
It is time to act — we don’t have a second to waste. We don’t have time for congressional leadership that ignores the urgency of the climate crisis and dismisses bold policy plans as a “green dream, or whatever”.
Join the fight ([link removed])
Can you make a small donation today? The Agatha For Congress campaign gets support from individuals like you and not corporate PACs. There are strong forces arrayed against the urgent action we need to take to address climate change. Your pledges and donations strike a blow for climate justice and gives younger generations a voice in their future.
Love and thanks,
Agatha & Team
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