By David McMillan
According to the Brazilian Ministry of Environment, the deforestation rate in the Amazon is 13.7 percent higher in the previous year. The question is, why?
In 2005, the United Nations created an initiative called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, which set goals for reducing deforestation rates and mitigating climate change through the use of carbon emissions and other practices, according to the redddesk.org.
However, Brazil is finding itself in a dire situation in regards to their forestry sector. While deforestation has diversified its economy, the lack of trees puts humanity in danger, according to NPR.
According to BBC, current Environment Minister Edson Duarte pointed to organized crime, specifically illegal logging, as the primary cause of the spike in the deforestation rate.
Illegal logging groups know that if they remain on the move, then there is a strong likelihood that they can engage in highly lucrative behavior with a low likelihood of prosecution. The environment minister of Brazil is lacking the resources necessary to maintain high levels of surveillance and is deficient in police who can be dispatched to monitor instances of illegal logging, according to Reuters.
According to the NPR, a group of Brazilian environmentalists called the guardians of the forest have made it its mission to burn down illegal logging camps. The local police in Brazil turn a blind eye to this band of rubber tappers. In the past 10 years, 16 members of the group were included in some of the 46 Brazilian environmentalists murdered, according to The Guardian, making it one of the most dangerous places to be an environmentalist. The guardians believe is that the Amazon is their only home and should be preserved at all costs.
The administration of Brazilian President-Elect Jair Bolsonaro said during its 2018 campaign that it will limit fines for damaging forestry and weaken the influence of the environmental agency, according to BBC.
According to NBC News, the result of not halting deforestation in the Amazon will not only dramatically increase carbon emissions, but it will impair the rainfall cycle across the Western Hemisphere. Environmental scientists at George Mason University published a paper this past February in the journal Science Advances that explained that if the rainfall cycle collapses, winter droughts in parts of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina could devastate agriculture.