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Fate of planet earth depends on Brazil's presidential election

Oct 27,2022 - Last updated at Oct 27,2022

The fate of the planet earth could depend on the second round in Brazil's presidential election on Sunday. If challenger Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva, "Lula," defeats incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, the Amazon rainforest, the world's lungs, might, just might be saved. For decades, the vast rainforest has been prey to commercial interests which have destroyed more than 17 per cent of the forested area while climate change is threatening the very survival of the dense forests.

Polls conducted just two weeks before the vote showed that Lula, 76, led with 49 per cent against 45 per cent for Bolsonaro, 67, figures which experts called a statistical tie. The survey, reported by Reuters, also said  that 97 per cent of voters have made up their minds, leaving only a small number which could swing either way.

Bolsonaro's slender rise in the opinion polls has improved due to social programmes adopted by his government and a stronger economy, while Lula suffers from the unopularity of his Workers' Party and its involvement in corruption.

In the first round, on October 2nd, Lula received 48.4 per cent of the vote, Bolsonaro 43.2 per cent, and Simone Tebet, 4.2 per cent.  If she had refrained from running, Lula should have won in that round. Senator Tebet, a centrist of Lebanese origin, has since endorsed Lula as she considers Bolsonaro a "threat to democracy".  However, one-third of her supporters remain undecided.

She has said if Lula wins he will have to form a broad coalition with the centre. In an interview with Bloomberg she stated, “Bolsonaro’s government is inhumane, it doesn’t put people first, it causes civilisation setbacks, it is a civic duty to choose the side I chose.”

A deputy from Lula's party, Paulo Pimenta has urged the Palestinian community to vote for Lula, as he and his party have always supported the Palestinian cause. "Now, you have an important opportunity to represent the cause more successfully through voting for Lula." The well-organised Palestinian community numbers only 60,000 but its members are concentrated in strategic areas. Lula was a very popular president (2003-10) who was credited with raising millions of Brazilians out of poverty, boosting his country's trade with the world, and building a strong economy. He also reined in commercial enterprises exploiting the Amazon rainforest and extended protection to indigenous tribes.

Since Bolsonaro became president The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources has cut down on its monitoring work into illegal activities, often undertaken by criminal gangs. In the rainforest illegal incursions have been responsible for 94 per cent of deforestation.

The Economist has adopted a strong stance against Bolsonaro: "Lula remains the narrow favourite, not least because Mr Bolsonaro repels so many voters: he is crass, bragging about his virility and sneering at women he deems unattractive. He is a Trumpian populist, who lies as easily as he breathes and imagines conspiracies everywhere. He makes no effort to stop the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. His handling of COVID-19 was disgraceful. His circle overlaps with organised crime. He undermines institutions, from the Supreme Court to democracy itself. He hints that the only way he can lose the election is if it is rigged, and that he will accept no result except victory." Sounds just like the man he imitates — Donald Trump who is threatening to run for a second term as US president. This is a threat the world must take seriously as he is a climate change denier who considers the globe's natural resources as commercial assets.

The Amazon rainforest, covering seen million square kilometres, is spread across eight countries in South America.  Brazil contains the largest expanse, almost 4 million square kilometers, where most of the destruction took place last year. The rainforest is not just a habitat for native tribes, animals and plants, but also captures around 123 billion tons of carbon dioxide which would be into the atmosphere if not stored in the rainforest. Due to the depredations of ranchers, farmers, miners and loggers, the Amazon is becoming an emitter of carbon dioxide.

Sentientmedia reports that agriculture is the main culprit as it requires the burning and clearing of large areas of forest. Due to the global high demand for meat, cattle ranching accounts for 80 per cent of the ongoing devastation. The crops planted include soy, sugar cane, palm oil, cotton and rice. Logging is not conducted sustainably and wastefully, causing maximum damage to the forest and the habitat. Mining for gold and other metals and minerals also involves denuding large tracts of land.

According to Undark's website, US companies have been expanding their mining operations, prompting activists to accuse the US of complicity in the destruction of the rainforest.

Climate change is drying the Amazon, making it less able to store carbon dioxide and vulnerable to forest fires. The greater the impact of global warming on this planetary resource, the greater the destruction by this man-made disaster of the Amazon rainforest.


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