22 | SEP | 2019
What is fuelling climate change and the Amazon destruction?
Smoke is stirred during a fire in an area of ​​the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas state, Brazil - Photo: Ueslei Marcelino/REUTERS

What is fuelling climate change and the Amazon destruction?

30/08/2019
16:11
Gabriel Moyssen
Mexico City
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Fires ravaging the Amazon and the Congo Basin prove that the world is in an era of rapid environmental destruction and climate change with long-term negative consequences

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Fires ravaging the Amazon and the Congo Basin rainforests demonstrate that the world is in an era of rapid environmental destruction and climate change with long-term negative consequences for the survival of humanity and civilization as we know it today.

Recently, the possibility of a new recession due to the current trade war between the United States and China, as well as the resurgence of fascism and racism, have been added to the list of problems ranging from geopolitical tensions and nationalism to poverty, the Middle East conflicts, immigration, and Brexit which are contributing to the generalization of pessimistic forecasts and the sense that no matter what we do it is too little and too late.

However, we cannot argue that the world was not warned regarding climate change, in particular since the landmark 1995 COP 1 Conference in Berlin and the 2012 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit; what we probably did not understand is the fact that the capitalist globalization, considered the highest stage of neoliberalism, entailed the destruction of the planet and the cancellation of human rights.
 

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This would explain why big oil companies like Exxon and Shell colluded to hide the results of their own internal assessments of the carbon dioxide released by fossil fuels at least since 1977.

In 1988, a study from Shell foresaw a one-meter sea-level rise and noted that warming could also fuel disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet resulting in a global rise in sea level of five to six meters,” enough to inundate entire low-lying countries.

Nevertheless, oil is still the most commonly used fuel; in 1987, 87% of the world’s energy consumption came from oil, natural gas and coal. Thirty years later, it is still 81% despite the increase in wind and solar energy, according to the International Energy Agency.

Even worse, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Iraq, and Russia have increased their production, while Mexico is building a new oil refinery instead of promoting green energy sources. In fact, the oil market is already saturated, and the U.S.now the largest producer due to fracking and other technologies—is about to flood the world with a lot more.
 

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August will mark the start of the Cactus II, a 670,000 barrel a day pipeline connecting the Permian Basin to Corpus Christi, Texas, and from there to global markets. That pipeline, and another, named Epic, are just the start, with more to follow just when more oil could help depress prices, especially if trade wars continue to suppress demand.

It is no coincidence that in this context occurred the death of David Koch, one of the two infamous billionaire Koch brothers with a personal USD $60 billion fortune.

At the forefront of Koch Industries, David and his brother Charles used the power from the multinational involved in the petroleum, chemical, mineral, finance, commodities trading, and investing sectors to fund a vast conservative political network, including Donald Trump's presidential campaign focused on climate change denial.

Welcome to Kochland

Business journalist Christopher Leonard details in his timely book Kochland (Simon & Schuster, 2019) how the masterminds behind the rise of the Tea Party and the radicalization of the Republican Party mobilized the Cato Institute and other think tanks against the possibility of the U.S. supporting any climate treaty; they even spent more than ExxonMobil funding climate denial between 1997 and 2017, and thus established climate-change denial as conservative dogma.

It is no wonder that Trump is dismantling environmental regulations in the U.S. and withdrew from the Paris Agreement while his government proudly highlights that it did not agree to a USD $20 million fund—merely crumbs on the table—aiding Brazil to fight the Amazon great fires during the G-7 summit this week.

Trump, who has reportedly ordered to open Alaska’s 6.7 million-hectares Tongass National Forestthe planet’s largest intact temperate rainforest—to logging and other corporate development plans, can be seen along with the Koch brothers as the capitalist communicating vessel with the Amazon tragedy.
 

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Amazon wildfires: Brazil reports record surge in forest firesAmazon wildfires: Brazil reports record surge in forest fires

According to The Intercept, Wilson Lima, governor of the state of Amazonas in northwestern Brazil, began work in June with the Interamerica Group, a Washington-based lobbying firm, to promote corporate investment in the region.

Mining, agribusiness, and the “gas chemical industry” are described as “opportunitiesfor U.S. companies and among the “challenges” for their potential business is to “ensure forest conservation.”

Lima is a member of the right-wing Social Christian Party (PSC), affiliated with the Assembly of God, a rapidly growing Pentecostal church in Brazil, where U.S. interests have used protestant churches as spearhead since the 1960s. Former president Fernando Collor de Mello and President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been referred to himself as “Captain Chainsaw," were members of the PSC.
 

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For his part, Interamerica Group founder Jerry Pierce wrote in a blog post in his company’s website that under a Trump presidency Brazil would becomea world leader in industries such as agribusiness, mining, banking, and aviation." In recent posts, he declared that “President Trump paved the way for a Bolsonaro victory.”

Transnational greed underpinned by the World Bank and its privatization schemes has set its sights on yet another natural treasure south of the Amazon river, the Guaraní Aquifer, the largest uncontaminated aquifer on Earth (1.2 million square kilometers) shared by Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Washington-Asunción relations grew stronger under Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989), when the landlocked nation, less developed than the other three mentioned above holding subterranean rights over the Guaraní Aquifer, participated in the human rights violations of CIA-led counterinsurgency Operation Condor.

The bilateral strategic ties were also evident during the impeachment of Paraguay’s President Fernando Lugo in 2012, after the former progressive Catholic bishop pushed back against the overreach of multinational corporations such as Nestlé, Monsanto, Cargill, and Rio Tinto, promising to manage natural resources for the benefit of all.

The Bush administration accused Lugo of allying with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez; however, the justification for U.S. military presence at the Mariscal Estigarribia air base in Paraguay, constructed in the 1980’s and capable of housing 16,000 troops—near Bolivia’s natural gas reserves, the second-largest in Latin America,—has been the “existence” of “terror networks” in the triple frontier between Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

Ciudad del Este, Paraguay’s de facto capital of the triple frontier, is the epicenter of an established and well known cross-border smuggling, counterfeiting, and copyright piracy industry; yet the U.S. and Israel arbitrarily declared its more than 20,000 inhabitants of Lebanese and Syrian origin guilty of providing support to the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, also accused of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires.

Editing by Sofía Danis
More by Gabriel Moyssen

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