The Amazon rainforest has been referred to as “the lungs of the Earth,” and is currently on fire. G-7 host Emanuel Macron called the fires an “international crisis.”
In order to address this crisis, Group of Seven (G-7) countries committed to a firefighting budget of $20 million, while also making a long-term commitment to the preservation of the Amazon rainforest in the years to come. When evenly split among the world’s seven largest economies, that’s less than $3 million per nation. To put that figure in perspective, that’s just 10% of the $200 million budget for X-Men: Dark Phoenix, a flop that barely broke even at the box office.
While it can certainly be lauded that the world’s largest economies saw a need to allocate funding towards fighting the fires currently ravaging the Amazon rainforest, the $20 million pledged is a fraction of what it would cost to properly preserve the Amazon rainforest — not only from fires, but from the deforestation that preceded the fires.
According to a 2008 article from environmental news site Mongabay, which cited figures from the Woods Hole Research Institute, alleviating deforestation in the Amazon rainforest would cost roughly $100 million to $600 million per year. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that Brazil is currently the 11th largest emitter of carbon dioxide, with more than 450 million metric tons of CO2 emitted in 2015. 70% of those CO2 emissions, according to Mongabay, come from the deforestation activities happening in the Amazon.
The fires that broke out across the Amazon earlier this month are largely due to environmental deregulation policies put in place by newly minted Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Since becoming president, Bolsonaro has asked people to call him “Captain Chainsaw” in reference to his promises to undo protections put in place to protect the beloved rainforest. Amnesty International has blamed the fires squarely at Bolsonaro’s feet.
Roughly one million Indigenous people in Brazil call the Amazon rainforest home, and say that deforestation under Bolsonaro is causing them to lose their longtime homes. The Brazilian leader, for his part, said the G-7’s commitment to protecting the rainforest was another example of colonialism, and that the fires in the Amazon were a domestic problem for Brazil to handle. After previously saying Brazil didn’t have the resources to fight the fires alone, Bolsonaro has since deployed 44,000 troops to tackle the widespread forest fires.
(Featured image: U.S. Forest Service/Public Domain)
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.