Two weeks ago, when ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva scored 48% against Bolsonaro’s 43% in the Brazilian elections one might have hoped for some respite in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
Sadly this has not been the case. Instead environmental criminals raced to wreck the region before the second round of voting on 30 October which could bring Jair Bolsonaro’s era of destruction to an end.
Massive areas burned
Government satellites show a 1,455-sq km area of rainforest was destroyed in September an area almost the size of Greater London. The Climate Observatory watchdog said that figure was up 47.7% compared with last September and on a par with the destruction wrought in September 2019, the first year of Bolsonaro’s far-right administration.
“This is a very dangerous moment,” warned Marcio Astrini, the Climate Observatory’s chief executive. “The Bolsonaro government is a forest-destroying machine.”
Hopes are pinned on a change of government
Lula, who managed to reduce Amazon destruction during his 2003-2010 administration, has vowed to put a stop to deforestation, revive protection efforts, stamp out illegal gold-mining and create a ministry for native peoples, if elected. His presidency from 2003-2010 is remembered by many in the country as an era of economic growth and declining inequality.
Next vote is a tipping point
Damian Carrington, the Guardian’s environment editor, reported that almost a million hectares of the Amazon have been burned in the last year, with fires at their highest level in a decade. “Bolsonaro has dragged Brazil back to the wild west days we thought we’d left behind,” one expert told him. “It’s no exaggeration, then, to say that the Amazon’s fate rests on the outcome of this election.”