Climate change, the time frame and life

Image: Brett Sayles


The time frame approved by the majority of the Chamber of Deputies must be understood as yet another demonstration of the intolerance of neoliberalism

In February this year, the coast of São Paulo suffered the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the country's history in 24 hours, and Bertioga's rainfall reached an incredible 683 mm, according to the National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet). The immense landslides that occurred in the region took the lives of 64 people in São Sebastião and the landmass destroyed everything in its path.

Seven months later, the population of the city of Rio de Janeiro endured heat of 41,1 °C and a thermal sensation of 58,3 °C – something that did not happen in 2009; while in the south of the country it rained “triple and quadruple the normal climatology for the month of September”, according to MetSul, and cities like Muçum were completely destroyed.

Extreme weather events like these are no longer limited to any continent or region and tend to become increasingly intense, as can be seen from the data released by the Climate Reanalyzer from the University of Maine (USA), who recorded an astonishing increase in temperatures at the Earth's poles. Temperatures of 40ºC above normal were recorded in parts of Antarctica and 30ºC above average in the Arctic, which made Antarctica 4,8ºC warmer, on average, than the reference temperature between 1979 and 2000.

When analyzing this data, the renowned scientist at the United States National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Kevin Trenberth, concluded that these extreme events can now be considered the “new normal”.

The combination of increasing temperatures at the Earth's poles and the reduction in areas covered by tropical forests are decisive in accelerating the imbalance in temperatures and the consequent occurrence of extreme events. Emissions from forests, for example, fulfill the function of cooling the climate and “by cutting down forests, we end this cooling effect, and increase global warming”, according to physicist Paulo Artaxo, from the USP Physics Institute. Understanding this makes it easier to understand why we are facing one of the worst droughts ever to occur in the Amazon, while in the South we have unprecedented rainfall.

time frame

It is exactly at this moment that the majority in the Chamber of Deputies approved the bill on the time frame for the occupation of land by indigenous peoples (PL 490/07). This project restricts the demarcation of indigenous lands to those traditionally occupied by these peoples on October 5, 1988, the date of promulgation of the Federal Constitution, and prevents the recognition of any area that was not occupied before this time frame from being recognized as belonging to the indigenous peoples. originating, regardless of the cause.

Furthermore, the project provides for permission to plant transgenic cultivars on lands exploited by indigenous peoples; the prohibition of expanding already demarcated indigenous lands; adaptation of ongoing demarcation processes to the new rules; and the nullity of demarcation that does not comply with these rules.

The project is so abject that the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib) characterized it as an evident “violation of the Original Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, which has been recognized since Colonial Brazil. “It is a tradition in Brazilian law, with similar provisions in the first Land Law of 1850 and in the Constitutions of 1934, 1937, 1946 and 1967”. In other words, the “development” defended by the current majority in the Chamber of Deputies is a throwback to the period before the Second Reign, under Don Pedro II.

While global warming models were just projections for the near future, the inability of elites with decision-making power to take the necessary actions to prevent global warming could be interpreted as a kind of Saint Thomas syndrome, the Catholic saint who only believed in that that I could see.

Now, we are all seeing that the models presented by climate scientists were only wrong on one point: extreme events are occurring on a larger scale and earlier than predicted. This, however, does not prevent more resources and efforts from being allocated to manufacturing and developing technologies for war, than to protecting the millions of people who are being hit hard by the consequences of global warming.

The civilization that produced a technology for living

Instead of being attacked, the original peoples should be seen as a source of learning on how to build a civilization capable of learning to live in interaction with forests and establishing its identity without needing to divide culture and nature. Faced with the acceleration of environmental problems to alarming levels and social inequalities that condemn millions of people to live in increasingly precarious situations, it is no longer rational to identify the reality of today's world as the triumph of civilization against its negation, barbarism.

The conquerors of the past and their successors today have always defined themselves as the bearers of “civility” and, thus, legitimized the destruction of different cultures and civilizations throughout history. Nowadays, this rhetoric only benefits the hyper-rich 1% of the population, whose sole cause is the defense of a model of society that interests them. So much so that, in the last decade alone, they have concentrated 50% of the world's wealth, according to Oxfam.

When defenders of capitalism dominated by financialization speak of “freedom”, they are only referring to the measures necessary to “free” capital from any control by the State and/or society and, thus, give way to its destructive nature. This necropolitics does not tolerate diversity and needs to permanently sabotage every form of democracy and does not hesitate to destabilize governments that are beyond its control and finance coups, all it takes is for the 1% of the very rich to feel that their interests are at risk.

The concentration of so much wealth and power in the hands of so few is the main reason for the sabotage of all forms of democracy taking place in the world. Such a hypertrophied order can only be maintained through the denial of everything that is different and can denude the legitimacy of a society that, in the name of civilization and progress, is rapidly leading humanity towards barbarism.

The time frame approved by the majority of the Chamber of Deputies must be understood as yet another demonstration of neoliberalism's intolerance towards everything that can produce alternatives and an act of fury against the civilization that has developed the most essential of technologies: how to preserve life .

*Gerson Almeida, sociologist, former councilor and former secretary of the environment of Porto Alegre.

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