Next Friday, the leaders of nations neighbouring Brazil will meet President Jair Bolsonaro to discuss a plan on dealing with the surge in illegal fires devastating the Amazon rainforest.
The basin of the Amazon river — an ecological sanctuary considered to be the lungs of the world, for its ability to transform millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into oxygen and help regulate the temperature of the planet — straddles Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana and Suriname.
The G7 nations — following their summit in Biarritz, France, last week — have offered some $20 million (Dh73.4 million) to kick-start international efforts to combat the more than 80,000 fires that have been lit in Brazil’s portion of the forest in recent months.
That’s an offer of help that has been rejected by Bolsonaro, partially on grounds that the G7 contribution isn’t needed and constitutes them meddling in the internal affairs of his nation.
The Amazon is pivotal in maintaining the delicate balance in curbing carbon dioxide levels. If we lose that fight, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will intensify the greenhouse effect, warming the planet even more
He has, however, agreed to accept an offer of four aerial water bombers from the government of Chile.
Since coming to power in October 2018, the president of Brazil has made no secret of his disdain for environmentalists and their efforts to save the vast tracts of the Amazon basin from development.
He views their efforts as misguided interference that undermines the economic growth and potential of the region for his people, regardless of the ecological impact.
Cut from the same right-wing cloth as other populists, he blames the recent fires on non-governmental organisations intent on undermining his administration.
Whether Bolsonaro accepts outside help from regional allies, or through funds offered by the G7 is largely a matter of semantics — what is relevant now is that those fires are effectively extinguished and the sooner the better.
The fires are consuming an area the size of five football fields every minute, causing irreparable damage to a region of global ecological significance.
The peoples of this planet are engaged in a critical fight to prevent our Earth’s climate from warming to the point where permanent damage is done.
The Amazon is pivotal in maintaining the delicate balance in curbing carbon dioxide levels. If we lose that fight, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will intensify the greenhouse effect, warming the planet even more.
Simply put, every effort must be made by the international community and regional partners in South America, and by Brazil and the government of President Bolsonaro, to act in the best interests of all mankind.