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Show the Planet Some Love

Won't You Be The Earth's Valentine

​​​Living in the United States can give you a very myopic view on the world where international events rarely intrude into our consciousness. The last few weeks have served as a reminder that profoundly important events, from natural catastrophes to the political maneuverings, happen beyond our borders with material implications at home. Thus, to fully address many of the challenges we face as a nation, we need expand our sphere of attention and empathy beyond the confines of our own borders, to work with and learn from others facing shared challenges. A great example of this is the country of Brazil, who’s newly elected President Lula de Silva visited the United States last week. Brazil is the second most populous and largest economy in the Western Hemisphere behind the United States, and until this past December, had their own version of Trump, in Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro did all the authoritarian right wing reactionary political activities you'd expect, from attempting to stack the Judiciary, to undermining democratic reforms and election integrity, to denying the coronavirus pandemic and cracking down on workers’ rights. As villainous as all this activity was, Bolsonaro was perhaps best known for his seemingly maniacal efforts to accelerate the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, one of the largest carbon sinks in the world and one of the areas of highest biodiversity on earth. Orchestrating such activity isn't just a crime against humanity, it’s a crime against the life itself. Thankfully the Brazilian people do not want this type of authoritarian, right-wing extremism and they successfully organized and came out to vote in favor of Lula de Silva, the leftist former President, whose road back to power has been astonishing, including political prison and dealing with Brazil’s own version of January 6th. Since he took office, Lula has been a breath of fresh air, beginning to overturn the horrors that Bolsonaro enacted. Principally among his achievements has been stopping the accelerated deforestation of the rainforest, with over a 61% reduction to logging recorded in the month since he took office! To ensure that this decrease represents a trend, not and anomaly, Lula has been seeking international aid for the international issue of the climate crisis. During his visit to the USA this past week, discussions with Biden centered on support for democracy, and efforts to combat the climate crisis, including the USA’s participation in an Amazon rainforest preservation fund, where countries pay to protect the forest instead of cutting it down for ranching. This is an incredibly valuable investment that Biden should take and should crow about loudly to the American people. Despite what Republicans, and other maniacal conservatives, might have you believe the American people are deeply supportive of protecting the natural world. We are, however, often forced into a Hobson's choice, where by the nature of our economic system it’s impossible not degrade the environment through our day-to-day social lives. The solution isn’t disengagement or despair, nor individual actions, but instead pursuing the kinds of very large-scale, collective, upstream changes Lula is championing. With most people wanting the United States to be doing more to safeguard the environment and protect endangered species, taking action is not only popular, but one of the cheapest and most effective ways to stop run away climate change. There are already troubling signs that the Amazon is approaching die-back, where deforestation becomes self-reinforcing, and unfortunately, we know that moral pleas and ethical imperatives won’t save the forests alone. Until it becomes less profitable to burn down forests than to protect them, the destruction of the natural world won’t end. We hope that this visit from Lula to the United States marks a new chapter of collaboration between the US and Brazil leading a Western hemisphere bloc that actually makes major investments and structural changes to safeguard our biodiversity, our species, and our planet. It’s only when we combine economic and political power that the incentive structures can be changed to create a world that is wealthier when we safeguard our natural resources, not only exploit them. so join us this (and every) Tuesday as we show our love to the world through radical solidarity, for not just our own species but all living things. #DSOT #UPM

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