Things That Matter

Under Bolsonaro, The Brazilian Amazon Has Reached Record-Breaking Levels Of Deforestation

Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is largely responsible for Amazon deforestation reaching an 11-year high. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) determined deforestation reached 3,769 square miles, an increase of 29.5 percent over the course of a year. 

According to Al Jazeera, that’s the worst its been since 2008. Bolsonaro has been accused of weakening IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency in favor of further monetizing the Amazon region. The president’s rhetoric has allowed illegal felling of the forest to thrive without impunity by nefarious loggers, miners, and farmers. 

Activists hold Bolsonaro singularly responsible for deforestation.

“The Bolsonaro government is responsible for every inch of forest destroyed. This government today is the worst enemy of the Amazon,” Marcio Astrini, public policy coordinator for Greenpeace, said in a statement. 

According to Brazil’s Climate Observatory, the recent increase is the fastest it has been seen since the ’90s and the third-fastest ever. 

“In a break with what occurred in previous years during which the rate rose, this time the government did not announce any credible measures to reverse the trend,” the group told the New York Times. 

Bolsonaro used executive power immediately upon taking office to ensure that Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture oversees the regulation and creation of indigenous reserves. The decision, many believed, gave the agricultural industry a significant expansion of power to determine where new indigenous reserves could be located. 

Within months, the INPE noted an increase in fires across the Amazon from January to August 2019, more than in the agency’s history of tracking the fires which began in 2013. 

“It is no surprise this is happening because the president has defended environmental crime and promoted impunity,” Adriana Ramos of the Socio-environmental Institute told The Guardian.

Bolsonaro lashed out against the head of INPE, Ricardo Galvao by firing him after Galvao called the president a coward for attempting to undermine the legitimacy of deforestation satellite imagery. Bolsonaro has repeatedly called the agency’s figures false. This year, following the G7 summit in France, Bolsonaro rejected $20 million in aid to fight the forest fires. 

Environment Minister Ricardo Salles finally acknowledged the issue.

Environment Minister Ricardo Salles has often deflected or dismissed evidence of the deforestation increase, but finally acknowledged it, according to Reuters

“[The level of deforestation] is far from what we wanted, but it’s also far from the three-digit numbers that had been reported,” Salles said. 

He blamed the deforestation on the illegal acts of miners, ranchers, and loggers rather than the president, adding that Brazil needs “a sustainable economy alternative for that region of the Amazon.” Salles did not present any course of action to address the issue. Experts are not hopeful that Bolsonaro will improve the situation. 

“Proposals like legalizing land-grabbing, mining and farming on indigenous lands, as well as reducing the licensing requirements for new infrastructure will show that the coming years will be even worse,” Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, said. “The question is how long Brazil’s trading partners will trust its promises of sustainability and compliance with the Paris agreement, as forests fall, indigenous leaders are killed and environmental laws are shattered.”

Brazil and the rest of the planet need the Amazon.

The Amazon is the largest rainforest and largest river basin on the planet. There are more species there than anywhere else on Earth. Roughly 20 percent of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years due to agriculture, illegal logging and urbanization. Brazil’s draconian policy that allows farmers to burn down the forest to clear land, and now under Bolsonaro to due so illegally without being fined has contributed to this. 

“Fires mark one of the last stages in deforestation,” said Raoni Rajão, an environmental professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais told the Washington Post. “First, the expensive wood is removed. Then, the bush is left to dry. Finally, fires are set to clear the land before grass can be planted for pasture.”

However, scientists note that whether you are an indigenous person displaced by the fires or in an entirely different country, this issue affects you directly. 

“Reforestation is essentially a way of removing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The existing forest is absorbing some carbon dioxide already,” Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy, a tropical and conservation biologist told National Geographic. “In terms of the global carbon cycle, tropical forests have a carbon sink roughly equal to half of what is in the atmosphere. About half of that is in the Amazon. This means to lose the Amazon would dramatically increase climate change.” 

Dr. Lovejoy notes that all hope is not lost if the nine Amazon nations take a proactive approach the Amazon can be restored to 90 percent of what it was. Bolsanaro’s critics are not as hopeful.

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This Brazilian Mother And Daughter Share A Rare Beauty Mark In The Form Of White Locks

Fierce

This Brazilian Mother And Daughter Share A Rare Beauty Mark In The Form Of White Locks

It’s not every day that we get to see beauty this rare or so brightly celebrated.

Two-year-old Mayah and her daughter Talyta Youssef Aziz Vieira both share a rare genetic condition that means they have a white forelock that makes them look like X-men’s Rogue. Now, their unique traits are going viral and being celebrated on social media.

The mother and daughter pair both have white streaks in their hair due to a genetic condition called Piebaldism.

Talyta, who is from Jericoacoara, Brazil gave birth to daughter Mayah in 2018. According to Daily Mail, the mother was not at all surprised to find out that the two shared the rare trait that gives them two different hair colors. According to Talyta, the genetic condition was passed on to her grandfather, mother, aunt, and cousins, all of whom were born with piebaldism. The genetic condition is characterized by the absence of cells called melanocytes in particular regions of the skin and hair.

According to Talyta’s Instagram page, the young mother said that in her younger years she attempted to hide the white streaks in her hair.

Soon enough, and fortunately, Talyta came to appreciate the trait. Even better? The mother says her daughter has fully embraced her hair mark and enjoys dressing up as Disney character Cruella de Vil while the two watch 101 Dalmatians together.

According to Daily Mail, Talyta says “Piebaldism runs in our family so we knew there was a high probability that Mayah would also have it… From the moment she was born, Mayah had so many white hairs on the front of her head. My doula posted a picture on social media and days later, we were invited by a photographer to do a photo shoot.”

It didn’t take long for the pictures to go viral online.

“I tried to hide my white hair until my twenties. I’d hide it behind other strands – worried that people would bully me,” Taylta explained “I soon realized though that I was unique and special. I want to set that example for Mayah. People always stop us to say how special she is.”

Fortunately, Mayah will have a chance to see someone who looks like her on the big screen soon.

While Mayah’s features have been compared to Rogue from X-Men and Anna from Frozen, the little girl will get a chance to see Cruella in Disney’s soon to be released feature about the villain.

‘That’s when I thought it would be a lovely idea for us to dress up together as those characters. I want Mayah to have fun memories about the way she looks,” Taylta explained about her images of her daughter on Instagram “I want her to embrace being a superhero. Other people who are different have reached out to us thanking us for helping them accept themselves. It’s so sad that people have hid themselves away. We don’t need to be the same to be beautiful. Everyone has a heart inside to accept and love. We are living in a time of knowledge and transformation. Let’s embrace what makes us different.”

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A Brazilian Photographer Is Documenting Indigenous Tribes In The Amazon

Culture

A Brazilian Photographer Is Documenting Indigenous Tribes In The Amazon

Indigenous tribes are the most important connection between man and nature. These tribes have lived off the land before modern society and many have never interacted with modern society. Ricardo Stuckert is going through and documenting the indigenous Amazonian tribes in Brazil.

Ricardo Stuckert is photographing indigenous tribespeople in the Brazilian Amazon.

The indigenous community is something sacred that most people agrees should be protected. They are more connected to the land than we are. Their customs and traditions are more ingrained in this world than ours are and it is so important to protect them.

The indigenous community of Brazil has been subjected to horrible attacks and conditions from the Brazilian government.

One of the most widespread attacks against the indigenous Brazilians living in the Amazon has been for the land. President Jair Bolsonaro has tried to take land away from the indigenous communities to allow for logging and mining. A bill he sent to the congress sought to exploit the land for commercial purposes, even legalizing some of the attacks we have seen on indigenous people since President Bolsonaro took power.

Stuckert wants to preserve the indigenous culture and customs through photos.

“I think it is important to disseminate Brazilian culture and show the way that native peoples live today,” Stuckert told DailyMail. “In 1997, I started to photograph the Amazon and had my first contact with the native people of Brazil. Since then, I have tried to show the diversity and plurality of indigenous culture, as well as emphasize the importance of the Indians as guardians of the forest. There are young people who are being born who have never seen or will see an Indian in their lives.”

The photographer believes that using photography is the best way to share culture.

“I think that photography has this power to transpose a culture like this to thousands of people,” Stuckert told DailyMail. “The importance of documentary photojournalism is to undo stigmas and propagate a culture that is being lost. We need to show the importance of indigenous people to the world, for the protection of our forests.”

You can see all of Stuckert’s photos on his Instagram.

Stuckert’s work to documented the indigenous community is giving people an insight into a life many never see. Brazil is home to about 210 million people with around 1 million having indigenous heritage. The diverse indigenous community of Brazil is something important to showcase and that’s what Stuckert is doing.

READ: Indigenous Photographer Diego Huerta’s Photos Of Oaxaca’s Indigenous People Celebrates Their Beauty

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