The resurrection of the environment

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By LISZT VIEIRA*

Marina Silva at the head of the Ministry of the Environment is a guarantee that the government will adopt public policies for socio-environmental sustainability

The confirmation of former minister and current federal deputy Marina Silva for the Ministry of the Environment (MMA) is auspicious news. With regard to the environmental issue, Marina Silva is an icon, nationally and internationally. Another indication, with all due respect, would probably be limited to just the environmental bureaucracy.

The task of rebuilding the Ministry of the Environment will require enormous efforts. As the Transition Team's report noted, “Environmental destruction over the past two years has been the greatest in 15 years. In four years, the Bolsonaro government destroyed 45 km² with deforestation in the Amazon alone. The organizational relegation and lack of commitments to international agreements is notorious”.

According to the scientists, the Amazon was reaching a “point of no return”, after which it would enter into an automatic process of self-destruction. Bolsonaro leaves a 60% increase in deforestation and a loss of 18 billion in fines, indicates the Report. According to the text, the government of Jair Bolsonaro promoted a deliberate and illegal dismantling of public policies, regulatory frameworks, spaces for social control and participation, and public bodies and institutions linked to the preservation of forests, biodiversity, genetic heritage and nature. climate and environmental agenda. The document also cited Brazil's loss of credit with the international community and the abandonment of traditional populations, which were not recognized for their work to preserve Brazilian biomes and for their contribution to environmental and social sustainability.

Marina Silva will face enormous challenges in rebuilding the institutions responsible for public policy to protect the environment and bringing Brazil back to international leadership in the environmental area. No one better than she can carry out this task. But obstacles cannot be overlooked.

Upon assuming the government in January 2019, Jair Bolsonaro declared: “I came to destroy, not to build”. And, as we know, he destroyed what he could in the areas of health, education, science, culture, environment, human rights, etc. He followed the guidelines of his master Olavo de Carvalho, who was certainly inspired by his neoliberal guru Milton Friedman.

in your book The Shock Doctrine, writer Naomi Klein tells the story of Canadian psychiatrist Ewen Cameron, who administered electric shocks to eradicate evil from the human brain and produce new personalities. The idea was to put patients in a chaotic state to be “erased” and “re-recorded” as model citizens and anti-communists. The brain would be reformatted and rewritten. Patients spent a month in a real torture chamber, were treated with strong electric shocks to erase their memory and received drugs that altered consciousness. Ewen Cameron's "research" was funded by the CIA and took place during the Cold War.

Naomi Klein associates this technique with the doctrine of the famous economist Milton Friedman, father of the neoliberal model. In the terrible tragedy of 2005 in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina ripped buildings from their foundations and caused a massive flood in which many people drowned in their own homes. Milton Friedman proposed taking advantage of the chaos to radically reform the educational system in the neoliberal sense of privatization. Disaster capitalism uses the shock to increase inequality and enrich the elite. Friedman proposed a social state of shock for the neoliberal reprogramming of society.

It was this model that Jair Bolsonaro tried to follow. In light of this information, it is easier to understand his “scorched earth” policy, such as, for example, his denial of the pandemic and sabotage of the vaccine and the use of a mask. Cutting funding for scientific research, education, health, environment, housing, etc. find an explanation in this logic of the shock doctrine, of a capitalism of destruction for a future neoliberal reconstruction of society, based on the market and suppressing the possibility of the State to provide quality public services.

We know that, currently, of all the energy consumed in the world, around 85% comes from the burning of fossil fuels (34% from the burning of crude oil, 27% from coal and 24% from natural gas). The other renewable sources combined represent only 15%. Another important source of emissions comes from changes in land use, as a result of the unsustainable expansion of the agricultural frontier, land grabbing, deforestation and primitive land clearing (burning), often illegal. In the case of Brazil, deforestation is the main villain of the Brazilian contribution to global warming.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC, a United Nations body, launched its latest Report on 28/2/2022, warning of the serious consequences if the global temperature exceeds 1,5 ºC. to Brazil the foreseeable consequences are as follows, according to the website weather info:

– Heat and humidity will exceed the limits of survival if humanity is not able to make the necessary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

– Droughts and floods will devastate homes and livelihoods in Brazil if governments and businesses do not radically cut greenhouse gas emissions.

– Food production will be affected by climate change.

– Brazil will face severe economic damage if national and global emissions are not reduced quickly.

– Brazil will be hit by the effects of extreme events happening elsewhere.

Environmental devastation has serious consequences in terms of extreme weather events. What we already know is that it is not enough to discuss the energy transition to reduce and ultimately eliminate fossil fuels in favor of renewable energies. This is a big step, but it will be necessary to face the challenge of an ecological transformation that will demand a new way of life and production.

The survival of humanity is at risk due to the depletion, in the foreseeable future, of raw materials essential to human life, in view of the abusive use of natural resources that destroy biodiversity and release greenhouse gases, causing global warming, with enormous impact on climate change. What is at issue is how to transform civilization as a whole to ensure the continued existence of humanity on the planet. The growing scarcity of resources aggravates the world situation, making wars more likely. The ecological crisis is not an isolated problem of overloading the environment. It tends to be the apex of humanity's general need for survival, which requires its liberation from the capitalist economic order.

All over the world, the pressure to protect the environment is increasing every day. International treaties within the scope of the UN pressure signatory countries to adopt environmental conservation policies, although not always with success. In the case of Brazil, hope lies in the new winds that will blow from January 1, 2023. The presence of Marina Silva at the head of the Ministry of the Environment is a guarantee that the new government will adopt public policies of socio-environmental sustainability and will resume the international leadership role in environmental matters.

*Liszt scallop is a retired professor of sociology at PUC-Rio. He was a deputy (PT-RJ) and coordinator of the Global Forum of the Rio 92 Conference. Author, among other books, of Democracy reactsGaramond).

 

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