By Oscar Barnes
Today’s society is plagued with many problems, such as social, economic, gender-based, and racial inequality. Another major problem is climate change. A significant effect of climate change is an increased number of forest fires, one victim of this being the Amazon rainforest, which is mostly located in Brazil.
According to Gizmodo, in the past two years, the amount of forest fires throughout the world has increased drastically. In August 2018, there were 16,632 forest fires. In August 2019, though, there were 79,000. In Brazil alone, there has been a 45 percent increase in forest fires, mainly in the Amazon rainforest.
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro wants to revamp the economy, so he is opening up more Amazon land to private entities for farming, mining, and logging, among other things. The quickest way these private entities make the land usable is by burning away the forest, often at the expense of indigenous tribes and the environment.
Some Brazilian citizens disagree with Bolsonaro’s priorities. For example, mathematician Valeria De Paiva, who works for Samsung and had grown up and lived in Brazil until she moved to the US at 25, opposes Bolsonaro’s actions.
“We are going backwards in terms of environmental protection. . .[Bolsonaro] only wants to make a quick buck, for himself and his family,” she said.
De Paiva does believe that Brazil should recieve compensation for dealing with the fires, but stresses that the government must take action.
The burning of the Amazon causes a lot of environmental problems, but somewhat helps an economy that is in dire need of it. This begs the question: in this day and age, can the world afford it if a country puts its economy over the environment?
In general, it all comes down to balance. Bolsonaro, a far-right politician, was elected due to the failure of Dilma Rouseff, a former left-wing Brazilian president. Ultimately, though, society has seen how extremist ideologies can turn a country to ruins, so just switching between sides isn’t an option. Rather, we need a more moderate leader who considers all sides and listens to the people.
The world is changing, and the last thing we need is someone who holds onto past stereotypes and social attitudes. Moderate leaders listen to all sides, making sure to consider everything before making a final decision. Leaders have to make hard choices, but they cannot do that unless they have established trust with their people by showing their willingness to cooperate with the public.
A leader must also be able to take into consideration all the possible negative effects of their decisions. This allows them to build trust with other nations that can help in their country’s time of need. Economies change rapidly from day to day and year to year, usually only greatly impacting the nation it is in. The environment, however, is more permanent, and if society doesn’t do something about helping the Amazon, and the environment as a whole, then the effects could be disastrous to us all.
Recently, Brazil’s military has stepped in to limit some of these fires, which is a step in the right direction. Bolsonaro will have to make some very hard decisions these next couple of years, but before he can make them, he must show his nation and the world that he is responsible enough to do so.