Reduced rainfall and a shorter growing season are putting Brazilian agribusiness and the energy sector at risk. Even as scientists rush to develop heat and drought-resistant crops, many doubt new cultivars will keep pace with a changing climate. The Bolsonaro government is ignoring the economic threat posed by the Amazon tipping point.
Climate models coupled with real world biome changes are causing prominent scientists to forecast that, unless action is taken immediately, 50 to 70% of the Amazon will be transformed from rainforest into savanna in less than 50 years. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is moving in the opposite direction, with plans to develop the Amazon, including the opening of indigenous reserves to industrial mining and agribusiness, and the building of roads, dams and other infrastructure.
Scientists Carlos Nobre and Thomas Lovejoy report evidence that this tipping point has been reached and will worsen if no action is taken immediately to reverse the situation. A NASA satellite study reveals an increasingly dry Amazon over time, which space agency scientists say is one of “the first indications of positive climate feedback mechanisms.”
A 15 -year old boy, Erisvan Guajajara, was found dead with multiple stab wounds Friday in the Brazilian Amazon. Seven indigenous leaders were murdered as of December 2019, making it the country’s deadliest year for indigenous leaders in two decades, according to an NGO linked to the Catholic Church. Indigenous leaders have been calling for action to halt increasing violence against indigenous people.
Brazilian far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has fired the head of the federal agency in charge of the country’s land reform, a move critics say yields to pressure from the powerful farm lobby to push legalization of cleared land in the Amazon — and further increase deforestation in the region as it could create incentives to clear forest land.
As human activity in the Amazon ramps up, its future has never been less clear. Scientists warn that decades of human activity and a changing climate has brought the jungle near a “tipping point.” If things continue as they are now, the Amazon might not exist at all within a few generations, with dire consequences for all life on earth. Produced by Shanna Hanbury.
In the small mining town of Brumadinho in southeastern Brazil, the Córrego do Feijão tailings dam owned by Vale, the largest iron ore producer in the world, collapsed on January 25, 2019. It unleashed a tsunami of toxic mud packed with iron ore rejects, killing at least 270 people, and causing widespread environmental damage. The mud covered 290 hectares. By Shanna Hanbury.
Brazilian microbiologist Amaro Emiliano Trindade Silva loves his work at the Federal University of Bahia, where he analyzes the impact of climate change on underground water, research that could prove a game changer for understanding a little-known facet of global warming. But for the first time in his life, he is contemplating leaving Brazil for good. And Silva is not alone. By Shanna Hanbury.
"Hitler? Who said I was like Hitler?” The tone was more puzzled than outraged. Jair Bolsonaro was sitting with me in a cramped meeting room next to his congressional office in Brasília, surrounded by memorabilia from Brazil’s dictatorship, American progun trinkets and books by alt-right authors. Additional reporting by Shanna Hanbury.
Fifty-seven million Brazilians voted for Jair Bolsonaro to become president of the largest nation in Latin America. Today, as Brazil awoke to the reality of its first far-right president since two decades of military dictatorship ended in 1985, many felt only uncertainty. With reporting by Shanna Hanbury.
Shanna is a journalist who has worked with the world's top international publications. She has extensive experience in research and reporting across Brazil and Latin America with a focus on the environment, science and social issues.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil