Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Brazil has the power to save the Amazon rainforest, or destroy it (economist.com)
165 points by vincvinc 71 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 137 comments

On one hand it's horrible that Brazil and other 3rd world countries don't stop the jungle destruction, but on the other they're just doing what Europe has already done to it's own forests, so what gives us the right to moralize... very sad situation... my view is that really the West is the one that can stop it, by investing and insisting on green industries, and not doing any business with those that endanger rain forests. It's all about the money in the end, so if Brazil (and people in power) can make a lot more money from preserving rainforest than from cutting them, then lots of people in power will be incentivized to protect them. Otherwise, as any politicians, they'll try to please their voters and sponsors first.

It's not about poor people trying to make a living. It's about rich people trying to get even more rich.

Wood, Soybeans and Cattle. The agricultural industry is behind this.

^ This! Perfect. The glorious agrobusiness keeps boasting how great they are to Brazilian economy. Well, for more of the usual (huge inequity, deforestation, the largest use of agrotoxics in the world and everything on the package - terrible education, almost exclusively extractive economy, a militar police that ranks among the most lethal in the world...), yes, that's the way.

Yes, and they get rich by exporting those goods.. to West, among others... same thing as poachers in Africa don't sell ivory to Africans, they sell it to the West and Asia...

“We made a mistake, don’t make the same mistake” isn’t moralizing nor is it hypocritical.

Not completely true, Scandinavian and Baltic countries have more forest than Brazil compared to their area. Mediterranean countries have less but started with less as well. Also forest have been growing for a long time in Europe, while they are still going down steeply in Brazil. Some Other developing countries such as China also now have growing forests.

There's a lot more landmass in Europe than Scandinavia and Mediterranean, and it was all once covered in deep forests. Even many Mediterranean countries used to have thick forests. Montenegro (meaning black mountains) got its name because of dark pine forests covering all the mountains. Those forests were for centuries cut down by Venetians who ruled the Adriatic shore, and then rains washed away all the soil - and now Montenegro is anything but black, all you see is the whiteness of rocks (deeper in land they still have a lot of beautiful nature and forests preserved, thanks mainly to the fact that it was hard to reach terrain).

Even the most developed countries are very much quilty of the same. Just a week ago we had a thread about deforestation of the Pacific temperate rainforests.


"Europe has already done to it's own forests"

Europe has done that to other's countries (colonies) forests as well.

It's not like that makes it a good idea.

The rest of the world has the power to force Brazil to save the Amazon. Stop importing soy and beef from Brazil, tie tariffs directly to satellite-based measurements of rainforest area.

Or you could pay Brasil to stop destroying it. That’s something the current president, as insidious as he might be, is correct about. Why does Brasil have to suffer alone for the world’s lungs? If the world benefits the world should pay.

Will Brazil also pay Sweden and Russia for their forest management? After all Brazilians also need to live in 100 years.

Sure. Countries that are vital to stopping climate change should be paid to by countries who are causing it.

That’s how you mitigate the externality that’s going on.

Aren't "countries that are vital to stopping climate change" and "countries who are causing it" the exact same people? They're vital to stopping it by discontinuing their harmful activities.

And a tariff works as well as a subsidy, but is easier to get the party imposing it to enact because it generates revenue rather than consuming it.

No, they’re not. Not necessarily.


Essentially countries that are causing climate are the industrialised world (obv.). Countries that are vital to stopping climate change because they have huge green areas, ie Brasil, are actually being heavily impacted by climate change and now they are being climateblamed by the first world for chopping down their forests for productive activities. Well if the first world wants the forest to stay they ought to pay for it. They also ought to drastically reduce their carbon emissions.

It’s funny how the same citizen of the same countries who are not doing their share of reducing emissions (US) are claiming in the same breath that Brasil should be punished for destroying a forest the West is desperate to protect. Well then protect it - tax your corporations for carbon emissions and buy up the amazon to protect it. Simple.

> No, they’re not. Not necessarily.

It seems like a pretty direct relationship. Your link is comparing who caused the damage to who suffers it, but that's not the same as comparing who caused to who can prevent it. The people who can prevent it are the people still causing it. Notice that Brazil is the same color (red) in both versions of that map. (It's also a misleading comparison because the "harm" side is measuring change in GDP growth per capita, but GDP growth per capita is smaller in developed countries to begin with. And then comparing that per capita number with absolute rather than per capita CO2 emissions.)

> Countries that are vital to stopping climate change because they have huge green areas, ie Brasil, are actually being heavily impacted by climate change and now they are being climateblamed by the first world for chopping down their forests for productive activities. Well if the first world wants the forest to stay they ought to pay for it.

Should we make the same argument all around? Generating electricity is for productive activities. If the third world wants the US stop burning coal then they should pay for it? No. The country doing the bad thing should suffer the cost of stopping it.

> Well then protect it - tax your corporations for carbon emissions and buy up the amazon to protect it. Simple.

It's easier to get tariffs put on a foreign country than pass a tax on your own people. It would be nice if some other countries (China? Europe?) could put some tariffs on the US tied to some CO2 targets as well.

Regarding your argument about electricity, isn’t that what the US does? It burns coal and oil and has afaik virtually no limits or carbon taxes because “it would hurt American industry”.

Yeah sure if there were tariffs all around. But the US hegemony was until recently sort of predicated on little tariffs and global trade. So your advocating a sort of ... I don’t even know how to describe it - reverse carbon mercantilism where everybody attacks each other’s carbon emissions through tariffs? That sounds like a good recepy for dramatically worsening international relations.

> Regarding your argument about electricity, isn’t that what the US does? It burns coal and oil and has afaik virtually no limits or carbon taxes because “it would hurt American industry”.

Because nobody is forcing them to do otherwise. So get somebody to.

> That sounds like a good recepy for dramatically worsening international relations.

Not really, because the point of the tariffs is to change behavior, not to actually collect the tariffs. You impose a high enough cost that reducing CO2 emissions is less expensive than paying the tariffs, so countries do that and then the tariffs don't get imposed because they're only imposed on countries that don't hit their targets.

There’s a strange sort of perversion to your idea that other countries should shoulder the responsibility to change your climate and carbon policy.

Essentially the citizenship gets off free for not voting in more responsible politicians, and hey, “it’s the other countries fault for not forcing us to do it”. Hilarious.

Leaving an uninhabitable planet for future generations is not exactly my idea of getting off free.

All I meant is that he is removing all responsibility of the population for their own government and effectively saying “other countries should force the US [to take action on climate change]”

It’s like any internal change is impossible i his mind - the only way anything can happen is if other countries tariff each other, and if other countries force the US’s hand... why isn’t he campaigning for change instead of sitting around and saying other, “more responsible” countries, need to force the US to take action?

That’s what I meant with “getting off free”. The population of the US, as far as I can tell, can choose some of their governments direction.

Looking back at this particular comment with less of a hothead, I can sort of see where you’re coming from.

I still don’t understand how you would get this to work unless it was some sort of universal agreement. If it wasn’t such, what would stop it from descending into a carbon war, similar to the trade wars we have now with Trump, with cleaner countries aggressively adding tariffs to poorer, “dirtier” countries? It would just be a form of de-development for poor countries who can’t upgrade.

> If it wasn’t such, what would stop it from descending into a carbon war, similar to the trade wars we have now with Trump, with cleaner countries aggressively adding tariffs to poorer, “dirtier” countries?

The main reason would be that the poorer countries as a rule aren't actually dirtier. Countries by CO2 per capita:


It's basically a list sorted by approximately how rich they are, with rich oil states and big first world countries like the US, Canada and Australia at the top and impoverished African countries at the bottom.

Moreover, actual poor countries like Haiti and Kenya are irrelevant in this game. They're emitting negligible amounts now and for new infrastructure renewables are already cheaper.

This is all about the western countries and BRIC. None of them are "poor" to the extent that they can't be expected to pay the cost to clean up their own house. It's one thing to worry about countries like Ethiopia, but Russia is not that.

Meanwhile the nature of the shift away from carbon makes it an economic stimulus for non-oil exporting countries like India and China because it allows them to stop paying to import oil and instead pay for renewables that can be from domestic producers.

It’s hilarious that you’re so centred in your own politics that you don’t see the hypocrisy in that statement btw.

“Tariffs are easier to enable”. Sure, FOR YOU. By you are fucking over Brasil twice - once by enacting climate by your irresponsible, untaxed and unregulated carbon emissions. Then by BLAMING Brasil for doing something productive with THEIR forest land.

Why don’t you just tax your own carbon emissions and make a difference instead? Oh it’s politically difficult. Same as any action against carbon emissions.

So let’s fuck over the third world twice by A) causing climate change which will affect them more than us and B) making THEM PAY for OUR IRRESPONSIBILITY.

Why ? Because it’s more politically feasible to fuck them than to limit our own industrial capacity. America First

Distributing blame and accusing people of hypocrisy doesn't change anybody's behavior. Countries screw over other countries for their own benefit all the time and they're not going to stop as a result of moralizing rhetoric.

And it doesn't even necessarily change anything. Read this:


The difference between tariffs and subsidies is who gets the money. But even that doesn't really change very much unless the different people have significantly different preferences. If the American fat cats are just going to invest the money into the same ventures as the Brazilian fat cats then there is no real difference at all.

American fat cats should buy up the amazon for the purpose of protecting it. I’m obviously not defending the idea that they exploit it same as the Brazilians.

That's not what I'm talking about.

Suppose we give them money for the rain forest so they leave it alone, and they take the money and invest it in the S&P 500, and then take the returns from that and reinvest it in the same thing.

Suppose instead we threaten them with trade sanctions if they don't leave the rain forest alone, keep our money and invest it in the S&P 500 ourselves.

It's the same result in practice. The real cost to Brazil is that they don't get to have an agriculture industry where there used to be rain forest. Which fat cat subsequently gets to be the nominal owner of some shares of SPX has no real effect on ordinary humans. The fat cats care but nothing real changes for anybody else.

You couldn’t really expect me to understand all that from what you said. Thanks for explaining in the end but I wonder if your specialised knowledge and thought into this made it harder for you to explain the concept in plain language. Maybe it’s obvious to you, but it wasn’t for me.

Precise, couldn't agree more

> Why does Brasil have to suffer alone for the world’s lungs?

Because we all know Brazilians don't need oxygen to breathe.

Even brazilian breath oxygen.

What "suffering" has the rest of the world done to brazil ?


But Brazil also fucking itself... Talk about biting your head off to spite your nose.

I won’t disagree with you there. Even this recent election of the neofascist Bolsonaro was essentially a self destructive act, very much grounded in identify politics (particularly anti-homosexual).

No, it was a reaction to the previous years of corruption and economic destruction.

Meh. Are you Brazilian or just a news reader?

I am Brazilian.

If you’re Brazilian then you’ve made your own bed. I won’t criticise, because why would I.

E sim meus pais e minha família são brasileiros. Portanto, boa sorte meu compadre. Se o Bolsonaro resolver algum problema no Brasil, que Deus abençoe o Fdp. Agora não acredito que o fará, particularmente na corrupção.

E não estou dizendo que Haddad devia ter ganho. O Brasil é o que é e pouco me serve explicar o nosso país para gringo. Mas eu tento. Eu tento.

I’m not sure why you wrote that in Portuguese.

Bolsonaro has already done good things for Brazil. Violent crime is down more than 20% in 6 months. Particularly, murders are down 25%. Foreign criminals who were protected by the previous administrations are now being extradited.

The economy is back on the growth track. A trade agreement with the EU was announced. The US have recognized Brazil as a major non-NATO ally. We’re about to join the OECD. Our interest rate is the lowest in history. The stock market is at historical highs. The government will sell many of its 400+ state-owned companies, reducing opportunity for corruption and saving billions of taxpayer money. Bureaucracy is being reduced by the Economic Freedom act. Unemployment is down. Minimum wage was raised on his first day in government. A decree that forbids confidential status in credit given by state banks, allowing them to be overseen by regulators, was signed in his first days.

Bolsonaro was the first President in our history elected without money from big corporations or a slush fund. He’s also the first president to avoid nominating his cabinet in exchange for support in Congress. Even without buying Congress support, vital reforms are being passed. Government propaganda costs have been slashed by billions.

Cuban doctors who were brought here under slave-like conditions have been replaced by Brazilian doctors. Eleven billion BRL that were supporting the Cuban dictatorship are now spent here.

I could go on, but you get the point. A lot is being done, and it’s still his first year. You may call him an SOB but there’s no way to deny things are getting better by the day.


> 15 seconds of Google and you can see how your first statement has little support

It’s great that you researched 15 seconds about Brazil. I live here, so what do I know... Your link is basically saying things are getting better, but who knows, they can get worse in the future, because god forbid the press admitting this president has done anything good.

> Privatizations to covert deficit?

First, what I said was that the economy was on the way to start growing again.

And yes, absolutely. Did you know Brazil has more than 400 state-owned companies? We absolutely must cut the deficit caused by the reckless spending that broke the country in the past.

> I could go on

Apparently you can’t, because you just dismissed all the other points with some scare quotes and no substance.

> I suggest you to read more factual information

Like 15s of google?

By the way, I think this administration is far from perfect. But it's strong in at least three areas, the Economy, Infrastructure and Justice cabinets, which are three areas where Brazil is severely lacking, and which have been abandoned by previous administrations, to say the least.

I wrote them in Portuguese because I don’t feel like explaining my opinions too much in English. I don’t find it productive and it might just bring other people into the discussion, which I didn’t want. I hope that was clear.

I hope you’re right and things get better. There would be no greater joy in my life than seeing Brasil succeed.

> "I live here, so what do I know."

And how do you know I don't? Are you going to tell me you didn't notice my username?

> Your link is basically saying things are getting better, but who knows, they can get worse in the future, [...]

It uses apropriate language regarding future events. Do you have a crystal ball?

A complex system is hard to predict, but you can have an idea of how turning some knobs is going to affect things in the long run.

Also: using caution when talking about the future is what resonable people do; the ones full of certainty about the future are usually polititians of some particular kind.

> Did you know Brazil has more than 400 state-owned companies?

And do you know Canada has 250+?

The USA also has tons of state-owned companies, it just happen that they are owned by states not by the federal government. Most of them are called "public-benefit corporations", which are very similar in the way they operate (often treated as a synonym), see:


Now getting a proper number is not an easy task though, as each state keeps them independently. I have some numbers for New York if you want to have a look:


If every state has at least half of these (~25), you get around a thousand (1000). Yes, three zeroes. And I'm not counting local authorities.

Considering half again (~250), that would push the number to twelve thousand (12000)!

Say what you want about the specifics, but that looks like a very big number for me.

> Like 15s of google?

If 15s of Google is already more factually correct than your sources, maybe you can start there.

Last, but not least, not really into responding all your comment. I've spent some time talking to people defending Bolsonaro. They end up the same way as the guys defending Lula: ridiculed.

Take this as a word of advice: polititians do not deserve your loyalty, specially the ones full of certainty and bringing the "I'll fix everything" motto. I've seen the same thing at least since voting in Brazil became a thing again (hint: Collor). You are not the first and not the last, but you can be one less gullible person to buy into the propaganda. Think about it.

Have a good day.

Isn't it great to know corruption has ended completely now that the previous party was removed?

What’s your point? A corrupt party was removed by peoples’ votes. It’s how democracy works. Eventually people notice the stealing.

Did I say that ended corruption? No, I said he won because people were tired of the previous party corrupt ways. That’s hardly controversial.

A "corrupt" party that could, but didn't, interfere with the largest corruption probe in Brazilian history was removed in a coup, replaced by a vice president from the party most involved in corruption scandals, allowing a farcical, inquisitorial investigation to jail a former president on thin "evidence" so that a neonazi (with a long history of low-level corruption and close ties with organized crime) could win an election...

Yeah... That'll work...

This false narrative of coupe and former president inocence is wrong on so many levels... it hurts to see it here

Don't the leaked Telegram messages show a judge and the lead of the accusation conspiring, effectively denying defendants a fair trial?

Nope, they show nothing of that sort.

It also has to be mentioned that the defendant has been convicted by three independent instances of the Brazilian justice system (local, regional and superior courts), each time unanimously.

You forgot to put "independent" in quotes. Those were not separate trials, but rubber stamping the first one.

Don't you think the judge privately advising the accusation without communicating the defense undermines the right to a fair trial?

> Those were not separate trials, but rubber stamping the first one.

This is what you’d probably like to be true, due to political alignment or something; however, there isn’t any evidence whatsoever that that was the case. Do you really think multiple judges in the country’s higher courts would all, unanimously, simply rubber stamp the decision of a local judge?

> Don't you think the judge privately advising the accusation without communicating the defense undermines the right to a fair trial?

No, because the messages do not reveal anything remotely illegal. The Brazilian justice model admits communication between the judge and the accusation and defense, and none of the leaks have shown anything that can be described as harmful to the defense.

And that is all assuming the messages have been faithfully reproduced; there’s strong indication they’ve been modified, for example when The Intercept published edited timelines and cited people who were not even part of the taskforce at the time.

I will give you one example: 338 years of forced slavery.

Colonialism/Mercantilism by: Portugal, England, U.S.

I'd love to see this kind of auto-calculated tariff be applied to the entire world instead of just one country. Might as well start with the biggest offenders: China and USA.

Go ahead, if you are from a nation that trades with US, what’s stopping you?

Tariffs are set by governments not individuals.

Pressure your government?

Why are you so interested in shutting down discussion on this topic? People are talking about and lobbying their governments on this. It's entirely reasonable that we talk about it here too.

I misread the parent comment. That said, I’m curious how you’d apply an automatic teriff? Who would enforce it?

There is no such thing as an automatic tariff that I’ve ever heard about. Tariffs have always been controlled by politicians.

The rest of the world hasn’t even figured out how to force themselves to save their own equivalents, with few exceptions. Any action taken across borders should also be taken within borders. Sadly with the timeline of destruction, those two may be necessarily synchronous.

> The rest of the world hasn’t even figured out how to force themselves to save their own equivalents, with few exceptions.

It may be politically easier to impose sanctions or tariffs on foreign countries than to ban or tax their own electorate. I'm in favour of forcing other countries to clean up especially if those countries in turn force my country to do the same.

What's more likely to happen is trade wars and maybe even real wars, because you're essentially wishing for destabilization of countries.

Some trade sanctions are a far cry from destabilization; and even destabilization need not lead to war. And while I think it's an unnecessary trade-off to make, I would further question your implicit assumption that any war is by definition worse than loss of the amazon rainforest.

Look, if you reason like that you essentially say that you can never apply any pressure on others, because pressure might turn out to be too much, and might then lead to destabilization, and might then lead to conflict, which might grow into a horrible large-scale war. But that's putting yourself in a very weak position. Others may well take advantage, and you may end up in an even worse situation - on average. All that doomsday thinking about pressure is probably usually being to pessimistic. And even if things go badly, they shouldn't do so overnight; it's quite unlikely another nation wouldn't have the opportunity to reduce pressure before push comes to the rhetorical shoving.

>Look, if you reason like that you essentially say that you can never apply any pressure on others, because pressure might turn out to be too much, and might then lead to destabilization

The whole point to fight against climate change is to save future lives, but if this comes at a huge cost of present lives, then that outweighs the potential future problems.

If you put pressure on a country economically, especially one that's poor then you're creating enemies for yourself for generations. It destroys goodwill and cooperation. Look at Russia right now. They're clearly moving towards isolating themselves from the global economy, even though they brought this on themselves with hostile actions. Now imagine what would happen when other countries band together against a poor country to do the same.

I don't believe it would come at a huge cost to current lives now; I don't think it would cost any lives now.

I think the ill-will is probably worth it, especially if it turns out to work and future Brazilians agree that it worked. And how pressure (I didn't say sanctions, a previous poster did!) is applies matters, obviously the aim should be to both minimize the pain to normal Brazilians, and to make it as clear as possible why the sanctions (if they're part of that pressure packages) apply, and to do so so forcefully that change is inevitable.

I don't actually think Russia is a good example here at all; because the sanctions imposed on Russia are due to state belligerence - it's not easy to target those sanctions, and the Russian state has ways to subvert whatever targetting does exist. That's quite different in Brazil's case. The Brazilian state may not longer be enforcing the rules against deforestation, but it's still at least officially the policy, and I kind of doubt most Brazilians actively want the rainforest to disappear. Instead, the problem is economic incentives; and those can be more targetted externally, for instance by targetting industries that primarily cause the destruction; e.g. a ban on beef and milk products from countries in which deforestation for cattle ranching occurs, etc. If you want to retain the appearance of neutrality and don't mind spending a bit of money, you could even offset that by reductions in tariffs elsewhere, or even by subsidizing some other thing Brazilians care about or whatever.

Regardless, that's only ever going to work if Brazil eventually sees the light and agrees that saving the rainforest is worthwhile, so whatever penalties are part of the pressure package must never be enough to simultaneously piss off enough Brazilians to matter while being small enough that they stay in force for long enough to cause bad blood. If that's not doable, better to look for other pressure points; there's nothing to be won by pissing people off, harming yourself (sanctions aren't free) and Brazil, and then not having anything to show for it.

You argue in bad faith because you pretend that "wishing" is not a subjective phenomenon. If you wish for ice cream, and your friend has a car accident on the way to the ice cream shop and kills someone, did you wish to kill someone?

You can build a trading platform which adds its own tariffs.

That’s actually not true. In Europe there’s steady increase in area covered by forests and animals are returning to places where they haven’t been seen for centuries. It is a continuous effort and it’s not without struggle, but it’s a good example of how it should be. Large economies can and should use their power to force others to improve environmental standards.

That’s why I said few exceptions. As a whole and for most populous locations, the world doesn’t appear to be doing that. I’d love to see some evidence otherwise though.

African Great Green Wall? Recent Chinese effort to increase coverage by forests from 21% to 23% of its territory by 2020, which even included soldiers from PLA planting trees? I’d say, reforestation is on trend now and the countries deliberately choosing another course are exceptions. It’s 2019, not 2000 today.

How are you going to get China, a huge consumer of soy, to play along? Chinese investors are making significant investments in Brazilian agriculture. I'm fairly certain they will not welcome Chinese government tariffs on imported soy, nor do I think the Chinese government has any interest in those types of tariffs.

Sure, but before that rest of the world must make sure they have done everything they can in their own territories. But I doubt that is the case.

Otherwise it is nothing more than hooliganism.

Isn't this argument essentially saying that progress needs to happen in lockstep in all countries, otherwise it's unfair or hypocritical? A sure receipe to gridlock everything. Perfect is the enemy of good, given the urgency it's really necessary to act pragmatically.


You have 1 million dollars and you aren't willing to spend even 100 dollars to fight climate change. I have only 100 dollars and you, the millionaire, are forcing me to spend 50 dollars on that cause.

How is that fair?

There is nothing good here, much less perfection. US and China, only 2 countries, can do far more to fight climate change. I want Amazon to be saved as much as anybody else. Deforestation of Amazon is something large scaled stuff and protecting it is also a big task. If we want Brazil to stop Amazon deforestation, we must also make sure that counties like US, China must also take similar big steps.

I don't think you can claim that all other big emitters are doing so little. EU, China, etc are doing various things. The US is the black sheep today but hopefully they will snap out of the tea party soon. Eg China: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/07/china-is-on-track-to...

Apologies for being vague. I agree with your comment completely. I was specifically critical of US and to some extent China.

Not sure about the US, especially today, but China does a lot[1] for fighting climate change and deforestation.

[1] https://www.rapidtransition.org/stories/how-china-brought-it...

It may be unfair. So what? We aren’t aiming for fairness here, we’re supposed to be saving the planet, by any means necessary, by fair means or foul.

Because it is unfair and hypocritical. That's how western countries became rich, but now all the poor countries are being barred from this path.

People in poor countries suffer. You're basically saying that they should have fewer opportunities than others.

That's a lovely tale, but is it actually true? The path "western" countries took to riches was long, painful, and destructive. The alternatives available today simply weren't available then. If indeed the only route to modernization were via the exact path medieval Europe ended up taking then maybe you'd have a point. But that's not the case - right?

If all you have to burn is wood, and all you can grow are relatively unimproved crops, then that's what you burn and grow. But nowadays even the poorest of countries has better options available, and likely can get some help in exploring those options too.

Also, brazil is not some weak, destitute country. It's GDP is comparable to italy & france, and even per capita it's similar to the EU members bulgaria and romania. At PPP, the average income is pretty much smack on the world average, similar to china and serbia (the poorest EU country). Brazil isn't rich, but neither is it poor; it has the means to spend at least a small amount of effort avoiding deforstation. And let's not forget that deforestation will likely hurt Brazil too in the medium term; trying to avoid that isn't asking for a major sacrifice. It's asking for calm, rationality, and discipline. And yes, that's not at all trivial, but it's not a black and white affair either; some improvement is probably achievable, right?

>and even per capita it's similar to the EU members bulgaria and romania

Bulgaria is a poor country. Bringing them up as an example is a bad idea, because life there isn't great.

>But nowadays even the poorest of countries has better options available, and likely can get some help in exploring those options too.

Yeah, and that "help" will come after we've sanctioned them into irrelevance, right?

How would you feel if people discussed openly like this that China should buy a large chunk of the US and force the US to submit through sanctions from the world? Sanctions that would likely severely impact the quality of life of the people in the US? (Even then Americans would still be richer than Brazilians are right now.)

Bulgaria's GDP is comparable to brazil's and about world average. It's not poor. It may feel that way, being so close to much richer countries, but it's just not poor in any absolute way. In PPP bulgaria is even well above average and median: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)...


As to sanctions, and the fairness and perception thereof:

I don't think that fairness matters; nor should matter. There's no good way to figure out what's "fair" and what's not in the first place, and different people have different perceptions. Waiting for fairness simply implies not acting; and that's too costly. The whole situation isn't trivially generalizable to other countries anyhow; deforestation of the amazon happens in the amazon basin, i.e. largely in Brazil. This circumstance applies here, not elsewhere, and circumstances aren't always irrelevant.

Furthermore: the only reason to apply sanctions in the first place (and I hope I wasn't the poster to use that word?) is to induce change. If the sanctions are too mild and change not induced, they're merely harmful. If sanctions do induce change, then there's no "sanctioning into irrelevance" to speak of anymore, right?

But personally: I'd hope that sanctions could be applies precisely enough to induce change without impacting quality of life very much for the vast majority of brazilians that aren't chopping away daily. E.g. by prohibiting the trade in goods that encourage chopping as long as chopping persists (beef and vegetable oil IIRC?); If you want fairness; how about a simultaneous push to lower tariffs or other barriers on other goods. The aim should not be to punish, simply to force change.


Finally, I'm going to emphasize that I really think aiming for international fairness is a terrible idea here - but... if indeed a similar issue were to face the US or EU, I'd vehemently agree that sanctions are warranted. And there are issues where it'd be only fair to apply pressure even today. But the thing is: it's not a tit-for-tat game; the point is to cause change. Sanctions that don't cause change are worse than pointless; they're damaging. And however unfair that may be, I don't think it's going to be easy to leverage the US like that anytime soon. Maybe china, you're right... but then the question is whether they'd do that even if it's in the rest of the world's interest - after all, sanctions typically hurt the sanctioning country too (both directly and indirectly), not to mention cause diplomatic damage. If if china had the leverage, would they "waste" it on something like GHG, or instead prefer to "win" the next trade war?

Which brings me to a small dose of realism: it might be benevolent and selfless to apply pressure on Brazil wrt. the rainforest today, but which country is going to waste whatever leverage they have over Brazil and squander diplomatic goodwill over a rainforest that's everyone's problem, most specifically Brazil's too? Brazilians might even be better off in the long run - but countries aren't easily that selfless, so it's not going to happen. This whole discussion is likely going to remain hypothetical.

Serbia is not a EU country.The poorest EU country is Bulgaria ( I should know, I'm from there).

I have been to Brazil and the situation is very different there. You are correct that the GDP is comparable, but the gap between the rich and the poor there is far worse, though I don't have the stats to back up my claim. Just an observation.

That being said I'm sure that the short term profits they make from cutting the rainforest will definitely only help widen the gap between the rich and the poor there. I agree with you that they have other options to better their situation in a more sustainable way.

Going by wikipedia's stats, bulgaria is noticably richer at PPP, but not in raw $, so it's not surprising you'd notice the difference in person (and I'll bet the region you visited matters too). The inequality will matter too, as you say. Brainfart about serbia, I was simply skimming european countries ;-).


- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nomi...

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)...

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_eq...

People in poor countries also stand to suffer disproportionately from climate change. So it's definitely a good thing in Brazilian self interest too.

Of course we should do our best towards fairness as well, but perfectionism amounts to giving up.

Edit: also, many rich countries have chopped away their forests and it's now plain that doing sustainable forestry would have been much better even for the time.

The Amazon still has a long way to go. At the moment, the Cerrado (tropical savanna) region is probably in more danger.

In the Mato Grosso Region, it is cut down in order to make way for soy. In Goias, there are plans to build dams in areas of preservation.

This is the region where my favorite animal lives: the maned wolf.

These places are also quite dry and the Amazon produces the humidity they need. Without the Amazon, the Southeast will become a lot drier. So Brazilians themselves ought worry about it.

The amazon does not have a long way to go. There is still much of it left but scientists believe that at some point between 20% and 30% deforastation there could be a turning point with irreversible changes to rainfall patterns that would turn most of the amazon rainforrest into a savanna.

Seems to me that if the Amazon collapses we all lose. Why not sanction Brazil? Or at least put together an international coalition / treaty to buy the Amazon and other rainforests and protect them?

Stopping buying from Brazil won’t halt the internal markets purchasing of beef and soy, which as I am aware makes up the majority of the land usage.

I find it incredible how people are eager to protect the environment in other people's countries before taking a deep look in-house. Suggesting to buy a strategically important area of Brazil under the umbrella of saving the world is just purely naive or hypocrite. China and US are the main contributors to global warming. Not even the Amazon as it currently stands can keep up with that. Shouldn't we apply sanctions to both of these countries then? Or form a coalition to buy Wyoming (the state with the highest CO2 emissions per capita) e.g., since it is in the interest of the world? If the Amazon rainforest does not belong to Brazil, then why do the natural oil reserves in Texas or Alaska belong to the US?

Just to clarify, I am not pro bringing down the Amazon rainforest, only raising the flag on the tendency to outsource responsibility when it comes to the environment.

I'm reasonably sure that there is a large overlap of people who are in favor of buying the Amazon from Brazil and protecting it and people who want drastic measures to reduce GHG emissions in their own countries and a carbon tax with tariffs on imports from countries that don't have an equivalent system.

"Buying the Amazon from Brazil and protecting it" shows how little you foreigners understand of our country. It's a huge amount of land that is mostly unoccupied. There are serious concerns that smaller rogue countries will pop up in certain parts of it led by local militias. If we want Brazil to remain as one country then the first thing needed to do is to actually be present in a lot of this territory, and that won't happen if the majority of it can't be economically exploited in any way, especially in a country like Brazil where a fair number of the population, especially in the northeast and north regions, are extremely poor. Like any issue related to global warming, it's a little more complicated than people think.

"If we want Brazil to remain as one country "

Why would we want that? "We" want the rainforest, habitat to so many wildlife, to remain intact, as undisturbed as possible. So if the protected rainforest is then part of brazil or a hypothetical WWF or greenpeace state doesn't really matter to me, as long as the rainforest remains protected.

And yes, the main problem seems to be the poverty of the local population. When you are poor and starving, you cannot really care about enviroment. But as far as I know, all the industrialscale rainforest cutting and soy farming did not really changed something about the poverty, or did it?

>Why would we want that?

Because Brazil wants Brazil to remain one country. That kind of a thing takes precedence over essentially any environmental issues for them. You can disregard it, but you will then not understand why Brazil won't play ball.

So Brazil is a single mind then?

All the indigenous people want to be so much part of Brazil? (Or were ever asked, if they want to be part of it in the first place?)

I kind of doubt that.

So naivlely asking, why should the corrupt oligarchies in the cities, should have any rights about the rainforest in the first place, when all they care about is to squeeze as much money out of it as possible?

Because teritorial integrity is the sacred cow of modern politics and everybody too scared, what else might happen, if this dogma is to be questioned? Probably yes. So serious international pressure on brazil about really protecting the rainforest, is right now probably the way to go. (Which of course, does not exclude pressure on other sinners)

But it probably does not hurt, if people think about loudly about other consequences, of what might happen if the brazilian government continues to not give a damn, as there are really many supporters of the amazonas rainforest around the globe.

>Because teritorial integrity is the sacred cow of modern politics and everybody too scared, what else might happen, if this dogma is to be questioned?

Compromising another country's territorial integrity can very easily lead to a justified war.

"Justice" is made up by people. For centuries is was justified to conquer and change borders by force. Then suddenly there was a stop ... but all the old borders made by force should remain. That might get questioned again on a broader base, if the borders on a land does not match up with what people think and feel what is right.

So again, why is the amazonian rainforest the property of the brazilian government? Did they plant it? Did they bought it from the people who used to live there? I don't think so. In the end, it comes down to power. Your government might be stronger than the natives living there, but like I said, more people care about the rainforest now, than the people who lived there.

> So again, why is the amazonian rainforest the property of the brazilian government? Did they plant it? Did they bought it from the people who used to live there? I don't think so.

They fought for and defended their territory just as other sovereign countries.

Quote from some levels above:

> Why do the natural oil reserves in Texas or Alaska belong to the US?

Well, apparently there actually are wars for oil. And there are actually quite some people who would make war for the rainforest. But since environment is their motivation, they prefer different methods.

I wouldn't say it's unoccupied. It is occupied with precious rain forest.

... that happens to be a man-made curated garden of sorts [1].

[1] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/pristine-untou...

Would buying without making it a foreign territory possible ? A UN protected reserve or similar.

International funding for extensive policing would go a long way.

Personally, I think preserving the rain forest is more important than Brazil remaining a single country.

Right, but the Brazilian government will most likely act in a way as to preserve itself as a single country.

Which is why I'm in favor of external pressure, for example in the form of trade sanctions.

So you'd also be okay with trade sanctions on the US over their CO2 output? Or does this only go one way, where poor countries have to do the best for the world while your country can do whatever they want?

Yes I would be okay with trade sanctions based on GHG emissions. That's how you would implement a carbon tax, you need tariffs for countries that don't want to join the tax system.

Personally, I think reducing CO2 emissions is more important than USA or China remaining single countries. Which is why I'm in favor of external pressure, for example in the form of trade sanctions.

That's a delusional stance to take. You want the US and china to reduce GHG's? That's great! You want Brazil to stop deforestation? Also great! You insist on using the same kind of pressure to achieve both goals? Uhh... that's absurd, and just won't work.

Pressuring Brazil via trade might work; especially since it's simply not in Brazil's own (medium to long term) economic interests to deforest.

Pressuring the US and china via trade will simply not work. Who is going to do that pressuring, exactly? The EU is busy trying to stave off collapse and infighting, most of africa has more pressing matters than picking fights with superpowers, Russia and other fossil fuel exporters have strong interests is keeping GHG emissions high at least for a while... so... india, maybe? Yeah, right.

Avoiding deforestation is a good idea regardless of what others do with respects to GHG emissions. Hurting yourself and others because life isn't fair enough is ridiculously short sighted. And you know, maybe you could think of other ways to coax china and the US to reduce GHG emissions. At least china isn't run by self-delusional maniacs, so maybe you can get them on board, and then maybe you can pressure the US with china. Or maybe the US miraculously cures its own partisan infighting and decides to be rational and less self destructive, and can help with china. But waiting for their leadership to do anything while whining that life is unfair sounds like a pretty bad idea right about now.

I agree, but I don't think that the USA or China will fall apart if they're forced to build wind turbines, solar panels, and perhaps the occasional nuclear reactor.

The best way to preserve the rainforest is to collapse the US, China and the EU so there is no one to buy from Brazil.

Not practical but a solution...

>...where a fair number of the population, especially in the northeast and northern regions, are extremely poor...

People in Recife[0] are poor? O.k., maybe a single city isn't fair. How about Pernambuco[1]? Something like 31% of the entire population of Brasil is below the poverty line[2] and I somehow doubt that that specific one-third of the population only lives throughout the north and northeast.

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recife

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pernambuco

[2] - https://archive.fo/sBTbE

CO2 isn’t the only reason to want to prevent deforestation. Also, yes, we should be encouraging mass reforestation everywhere and buying Wyoming to do that sounds like a good idea (though there may be more cost-effective options, I’m only saying “good” not “best”).

That was the argument made by Bolsonaro. I know he's using it as an hypocritical reason to carry his own absurd acts. It's a race to the bottom, but that's true.. other countries cannot accuse him unless they're clean.

I take it Bolsonaro is a Brazilian government official. This is not how "taking a deep look in-house" works: if we argue that we should look in the mirror before looking at them, they can't use that argument to wish away any changes required in Brazil to keep the Amazon in a reasonable state. They should take a deep look in-house as well. And if they wish us to help with that (development aid from wealthy countries), they are welcome to ask, since it benefits us all.

Two answers:

(1) Low-hanging fruit. Brazil has a huge CO2 sink today. It doesn't need to change infrastructure or teach its public new habits or almost anything in order to preserve it. We can preserve and even improve this CO2 sink with a single decision to ban its destruction. Other countries such as the U.S. has very few such big-ticket items -- it has a million small-ticket items, many of which require social engineering (reduce consumption, stop traveling) or big infrastructure changes (electric cars, public transit, gas tax, nuclear and renewable power, bans on various power-inefficient things).

(2) Global warming is global. One country can destroy the environment for the entire planet. It's our responsibility to act everywhere. Environmentalism doesn't need borders. One could also argue that Brazil doesn't have the moral right to destroy a natural resource like this (nor does any other country).

Your comment smells of whataboutism. How dare we impinge on another country's sovereignty when our own garden desperately needs tending? The answer in all such cases is, of course: You can do both.

It's not whataboutism. It's a matter of principles. International pressure to "buy" a part of another country under the flag of environmental protection is not a reasonable option. It is a quite extreme measure. Why go through such an extreme measure in dealing with other countries' natural resources, while internal environmental problems are not properly addressed. For me, it all sounds like outsourcing environmental responsibility. Just put in perspective the cost/payoff of this proposal. This arrogance in the argument that the Amazon is not from Brazil and shouldn't be trusted with them is bad for the environmental discussion that needs to happen. Can't we really not think of better solutions?

>Why go through such an extreme measure in dealing with other countries' natural resources, while internal environmental problems are not properly addressed.

Eu não posso entender: Your proposed solution is that Brasil should carry-on doing whatever it wants with the Amazon Rain Forest and other countries should address their own CO^2 emissions, correct?

What is the argument, then, when you consider that Brasil will surpass those very same countries in CO^2 emissions when it no longer has a sink to counteract the effects of its own emissions?

Essentially, you're saying, "Everyone should look after their own messes and let us do what we want," whilst largely ignoring the fact that Brasil would - based on your proposition - be the resultant Sampson to the environment as a direct byproduct of that very premise.

Why can't it be both that the "world's lungs", as the Amazon Rainforest is oft coined, not be devastated and other countries fix their emissions?

This "muh sovruntee" mentality is precisely why we're stagnating (or even regressing) any progress on the positive feedback loop that we're currently sliding into. For example (if I understand correctly), it's why the states backed out of the Paris Agreements[0].

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_withdrawal_from_...

It is actually quite simple to understand. Don't be arrogant in proposing to "buy" a part of another country, because "they don't know how to take care of it". This is the kind of mindset that is counterproductive for the environmental debate. The Amazon belongs to Brazil, the same way that the Swiss Alps belong to the Swiss people, the oil reserves in Texas belong to the Americans, the plastic filled rivers that go to the ocean belong to China etc. There are no simple solutions - low hanging fruits - to the environmental problem. You could easily argue that we could just forbid the US of extracting oil from Texas to help save the planet. But that doesn't seem reasonable either, does it?

Once again, that doesn't mean Brazil should just burn the whole thing to the ground. But the way this will be accomplished is not through hypocrite, neo-imperialistic BS politics. But rather through economically sound negotiations, international agreements, multilateral commitments, that are advantageous for the parties involved.

>Essentially, you're saying, "Everyone should look after their own messes and let us do what we want,"

Yes, because that's exactly how western fibrous became rich. Now that you're rich you want to bar this path for other countries.

I hope you understand that when you suggest intentional pressure to divide a country you're essentially asking for war.

>I hope you understand that when you suggest intentional pressure to divide a country you're essentially asking for war.

Where is this assumption coming from that I am suggesting international pressure to divide a country? To stop deforestation of Amazon Rainforest? Sure. However, there's a vast berth between that and dividing a country and the former doesn't automatically equate to the latter, yeah?

Taxation, taxation, taxation. Tax the polluter, pay the one who filter that polution. The Amazon should be a source of wealth to Brazil. When this will happen, everything will work on it’s own.

Exactly. When the international community makes it clearly more (short term) economically advantageous to preserve the Amazon, then we will have a more sustainable solution.

Maybe it will be cheaper to terraform outback Australia / Sahara desert to a jungle than buying that much land. Besides, you'll need an army to defend it.

There are some relevant information that must be taken in consideration.

Brazil has about 66.3% of its overall land in a “reserved/protected” state, which is protected by law.

Source: https://agroecologia.org.br/2019/01/14/censo-agropecuario-de...

This is over 631 million hectares of land destined for preservation, Equivalent to 48 European countries COMBINED.

Amazon is not just IN BRAZIL, but spans over 9 nations.

No, I am not saying that’s a “green light” for full on deforestation nor I am saying that Brazil is doing a the most fantastic job preserving it.

What I am saying is that Brazil IS doing something to preserve the Amazon AND other forest land such as “Serra do Mar” and that a coalition of funds/resources could help improve enforcement of the law in these Protected areas. This much more “attainable” or acceptable by the current Brazilian government, which is currently very nationalist and patriotic. (President is retired Army captain, very right wing)

Brazil would not part/sell with a piece of its national sovereign territory to anyone, even if it’s for a “greater good”, just as US would not sell the Tongass forest in Alaska or the Humboldt-Toiyabe in California/Nevada “for greater good”

Every country has it’s share in controlling carbon emissions and global warming. No country should “outsource” their share of responsibility by enforcing environmental protection standards they are not willing to withhold themselves.

TL;DR: Brazil has some protections in place, could use some help, would not sell the Amazon because it’s part/territory of Brazil and 8 other countries.

Full disclosure: Brazilian by birth, American by choice

There may be some protections in place, but President Jair Bolsonaro just forced scientist Ricardo Galvão to resign from the National Space Research Agency for having the audacity to report an 88% annual increase in deforestation in satellite data. The President called the numbers a lie.

One can understand how this attitude undermines the integrity of the reserve.

The fall of the rainforest in 100 years or so is a certainty at this point, as well as the temperature rising over 2 degrees.

There is no way that world politicians and governments are going to move in time to prevent this, because it would take unpopular and easily attackable measures to prevent that.

If some government tries to heavily tax beef, there is going to be a riot, and those politicians would be putting a target on their backs for attacks by populists.

There is no way, it all happens slowly, much slower than the electoral cycle, the politicians in charge are usually seeking personal glory and long mandates, these measures would mean political suicide.

12 years is the time we have to prevent the rise of 2 degrees, its not hapening its as good as done.

> There is no way that world politicians and governments are going to move in time to prevent this, because it would take unpopular and easily attackable measures to prevent that.

I increasingly view demands for coordination as counterproductive. There will never be full consensus about anything.

Meanwhile, if e.g. California imposed a carbon tax on its own, would it destroy them? No, people wouldn't stop living in California just because it became more economical to install solar panels or buy a Nissan Leaf rather than a Toyota. And a market of even that size that went hard for fossil fuel alternatives would both show others that it can be done and create an economic advantage for itself by getting ahead of the curve and causing the companies implementing what must be the future for everyone as businesses inside their jurisdiction.

> If some government tries to heavily tax beef, there is going to be a riot, and those politicians would be putting a target on their backs for attacks by populists.

The answer is to make it revenue neutral and distribute the money as a cash dividend to the population. Then people whinge about the tax and love the credit and it cancels out across the population -- exactly cancels out, because that's what revenue neutral means. But you still get the consumer preference for things that don't destroy the world.

And the last piece of Hambacher Forest in Germany is also facing eradication, by a mining company. The German government is silent on the matter: https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-48931062

It's time to stop fighting these wars on their respective front lines, and aggressively pursue the responsible ministers, executives and shareholders.

Our economy doesn’t factor in the negative externalities, the damage to the environment done for the sake of making a profit.

If we did factor in those costs, if we put a value on the Amazon as the lungs of the world, then it would be more profitable to preserve it than to destroy it.

A carbon tax is a bipartisan solution to this problem. Factor in the negative externalities, and pay a dividend to places that provide a global, environmental service by protecting their forests.

I was wondering - what would happen if Beef and Soybeans were import-taxed in the US at an absurd rate, say 300%? Then, all cattle farming will have to occur in the US, thus needing no deforestation to grow meat.

China is one of the biggest consumers of soy grown in Brazil.


Same thing for all over the world.

The only problem for the Amazon rainforest is high birth rates in Brazil and in the rest of the world. If high birth rates continue, then there will be no more rainforest, I can assure you.

Brazil's fertility rate is somewhere between France and Germany.

This. I must admit that I had similar thoughts to u/boyadjian about the world's population. A few months ago I read the book Factfulness, which turned my world view upside down.

Particularly on the point of fertility, the best we can do is help the final billion people that currently live in extreme poverty. This causes the transition from large families and high mortality rate to 2-child families with low mortality, independent of religion or anything else. We are almost there, except for that last 13%.

The population explosion we have seen in the last century is due to the transition, where people got large families and suddenly none of the children died before they could get children of their own. The projection from the UN is that the population increase will stop around the year 2100 and top off at about 12 billion. That's a lot of people, but there is no reasonable alternative: nobody will stand for killing even one billion people, let alone the multiple billions that would make a significant difference in humanity's footprint. For perspective, to kill one billion, you would have to kill everyone currently alive in both north and south America. We can't let Africa starve to death (most of them aren't starving to death anymore anyway), so withholding vaccines or development aid won't prevent those four extra billion people from coming into the world, either.

We need to continue to support countries to make the transition as fast as possible. Even if it is a big risk to try and live with 12 billion people on this planet, that is the only way forward that people will support, and so it is our only option.

By the way, if anyone else would like a copy of Factfulness, I think the book is hugely important to read for everyone. If you think the price is too steep, I would be happy to pay 50% of your copy. (I would say 100%, but people abuse stuff that is free, and it's not expensive anyway.) I can also share a preview of the book to help you decide whether you should buy a copy or not.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact