Are Jair Messias Bolsonaro and Donald John Trump a Menace to the Planet?

Credit: Amazonian Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental

By Jan Lundius
STOCKHOLM / ROME, Aug 13 2019 (IPS)

We live in different worlds. The ones of friends, family and
work colleagues. Worlds which are overshadowed by other, much
bigger ones. Global spheres of international finance, politics,
climate change, etc., contexts that might threaten our smaller
circle of relationships; our family, our income, our general
wellbeing, in short – our entire existence. However, even at
those levels there exist small circles of acquaintances and
associates able to make decisions that affect the entire humankind.
Let me take one example – the regimes of U.S. President Donald J.
Trump and Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro, which are
menacing our global natural habitat.

Ten years ago, I flew across the Amazon Jungle, amazed by its
immensity though also alarmed by scares where thick greenery had
been cleared away and substituted by dismal remains of dead trees,
or dry cattle pastures and soy plantations. Logging and mining are
the greatest dangers to Amazonia since its exposed soil is
generally old, weathered, acidic, infertile, and subject to
compaction from intense solar radiation.

Within the framework of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) thousands of scientists and other experts write and
review reports informing the work of the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an endevour involving the
governments of more than 120 countries. The IPCC, which in 2007 was
rewarded the Nobel Peace Prize, was established in 1988. The U.S.
Government was the main force for making the IPCC an autonomous
intergovernmental body supporting a consensus between the
participating nations.

At regular intervals, the IPCC presents comprehensive
assessments on climate change and its impact on ecology, human
society, and food production. In 2013, one of its reports declared

Climate change is occurring, it is
caused largely by human activities and poses significant risks for
– and in many cases is already affecting – a broad range of
human and natural systems. […] Warming of the climate system is
unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are
unprecedented over decades to millennia. Atmospheric concentrations
of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to
levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Human
influence on the climate system is clear. 1

Nevertheless, several influential world leaders and their
sycophants refuse to accept unequivocal findings and warnings
issued by the IPCC, among them the U.S. president, who continues to
make badly informed, even mind-numbing statements, like:

My uncle was a great professor at MIT
for many years, Dr. John Trump, and I didn’t talk to him about
this particular subject [climate change], but I have a natural
instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on
both sides of the picture. […] Everything I want and everything I
have is clean. Clean is very important — water, air. I want
absolutely crystal clear water and I want the cleanest air on the
planet and our air now is cleaner than it’s ever been. Very
important to me. What I’m not willing to do is sacrifice the
economic well-being of our country for something that nobody really
knows. 2

While speaking about any scientific issue he does not know much
about it is common that President Trump refers to ”Uncle John”,
to whom he quite obviously did not speak about climate change,
since Dr. Trump was a professor of engineering at a time when the
phenomenon was hardly spoken of outside limited expert groups.
3 Donald Trump likes to refer to John Trump, who
died in 1985, arguing that ”Dr John Trump at MIT, good genes,
very good genes, OK, very smart”. The current U.S. president
assumes he has superior genes as well:

I’m speaking with myself, number
one, because I have a very good brain, my primary consultant is
myself and I have a good instinct for this stuff. […] I’m a
gene believer. Do you believe in the gene thing? I mean I do. I
have great genes and all that stuff, which I’m a believer in.

On 8 August this year, the IPCC launched a 1,200-page Special
Report of Climate Change and Land, highlighting that human
activities directly affect more than 70 percent of earth´s
ice-free land. A quarter of this land is already severely degraded.
Five hundred million people are currently living in areas
experiencing desertification, while agriculture continous to use 70
percent of the earth´s freshwater. Our planet´s vegetation
currently absorbs 30 percent of CO2 emissions, which contribute to
global warming, but the ongoing clearing of forests increases
average world temperature at an alarming speed, while access to
freshwater is constantly decreasing. During the last decades, the
average temperature has increased by 1,53 oC. 5
This critical situation could probably be reversed if agricultural
and forestry methods are drastically changed from a present state
of overexploitation, characterized by excessive use of pesticides,
nitrogenous fertilizers, mechanization, wasteful irrigation and
other harmful practicies favoured by large-scale agricultural

Let me return to Jair Messias Bolsonaro and his acolytes. The
world’s largest tropical rainforest is currently under a lethal
threat from President Bolsonaro, a powerful supporter of
large-scale agribusiness he is complaining about foreign pressure
to safeguard Amazonia. Bolsonaro is following in Trump´s
footsteps, for example by threatening to withdraw from the Paris
Agreement. His Minister of Foreign Affairs has called global
warming a plot by “cultural Marxists”, while Bolsonaro declares
that ”Amazonas is ours and ours alone”, accusing ”foreign
NGOs” of intending to steal natural resources of its rainforest
from Brazil and hand it over to European exploiters. Furthermore,
he accuses indigenous groups of keeping Amazonia away from the
Brazilian people, trying to maintain it ”at a prehistoric
level”. Accordingly, Bolsonaro has withdrawn governmental support
to FUNAI, the National Indian Foundation, which up until now has
carried out policies related to indigenous people. He has also
eliminated the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of
Environment, as well as two departments that dealt with climate
change mitigation and deforestation.

On 6 August this year, the Brazilian National Institute for
Space Research (INPE) reported that 4,700 km2 of the jungle had
been cleared since Bolsonaro´s inauguration on January 1st and in
June alone, deforestation had been 278 percent more than for the
same month in 2018. Bolsonaro immediately fired INPE´s director,
Ricardo Galvao, accusing him of being in the service of ”some
NGO´s” and that he himself would not fall victim to any
”environmental psychosis”. 6

Bolsonaro appears to belong to the same breed as President
Trump. He behaves like a narcissist obsessed by his own worth and
righteousness. Bolsonaro´s regime is already after half a year
threatening not only Brazil with a moral and ecological meltdown,
but the entire world as well. On March 28th The Economist described
Bolsanero´s government as being in a state of monumental
confusion. Apart from the economic team, it is a warring assortment
of retired generals, mid-ranking politicians, evangelical
Protestants and far right ideologues. “Nobody knows where he´s
going, what´s the course he´s setting,” says Fernando Henrique
Cardoso, a former president, of Mr Bolsanaro. “He goes forward
then back, all the time.” 7

Despots like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Zedong have proved that a
single man and his acolytes can bring death, hardship, and
devastation to millions of people. Remembering men like those and
learning about the views, aspirations, and actions of people like
Trump and Bolsonaro make it imperative for all of us to become
aware of the craziness of these two leaders and the fatal
consequences of their actions. All humanity must now join forces to
support national and global efforts to save our planet.

3 Davidson Sorkin, Amy (2016) ”Donald Trump´s
Nuclear Uncle”, The New Yorker, April 8.
4 Collins, Eliza (2016) “Trump: I consult myself
on foreign policy”, Politico, March 16, and Mortimer, Caroline
(2016) “Donald Trump believes he has superior genes, biographer
claims.” The Independent, September 30.
6 Gatinois, Claire (2019) ”Déforestation record
au Brésil, le jeu dangereux de Jair Bolsonaro”, Le Monde, August
7 Bello, Andrés (2019) ”Jair Bolsonaro,
Brazil´s apprentice president”, The Economist, March 28.

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion
from Lund University and has served as a development expert,
researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international

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Are Jair Messias Bolsonaro and Donald John Trump a Menace to the
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Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Are Jair Messias Bolsonaro and Donald John Trump a Menace to the Planet?