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連燒三周不熄,亞馬遜大火背后真相是什么?

Erin Corbett 2019年08月28日

近期的亞馬遜大火,與當地的農牧民利用旱季燒林開荒,以求放牧牲畜有很大關系。

亞馬遜雨林的大火已經持續燃燒整整三個星期了,這并非偶然。關于這場大火,還有哪些是你應該知道的?

亞馬遜是否經常發生火災?

亞馬遜從每年7月和8月起進入旱季,旱季通常會持續到11月中旬,在這期間,火災是很常見的。不過來自于巴西國家空間研究所的數據顯示,今年巴西已經發生了超過7.2萬起火災,其中半數以上發生在亞馬遜地區。較上年同期增長了84%。

據美國國家海洋和大氣管理局介紹,眾所周知,亞馬遜雨林的濕度較大,通常不容易被野火引起火災。近期的亞馬遜大火,與當地的農牧民利用旱季燒林開荒,以求放牧牲畜有很大關系。結果不僅燒毀了大面積的雨林,也對生活在那里的土著社區造成了影響。

亞馬遜雨林發生火災的原因是什么?

目前,整個亞馬遜地區一共有9500多處起火點。

毀林開荒,也就是燒毀林木,將土地轉為其他用途,是導致這些火災的主要原因。目前發生在亞馬遜地區的毀林行為大多是非法的。

一個叫“亞馬遜觀察”的非政府組織在一份報告中指出,農業和農產品國際貿易,是導致巴西大面積毀林開荒的主要推動力,毀掉的林地有75%以上被用于養牛或種植大豆。大豆和牛肉已經成了巴西的主要出口產品之一,而它們都是“危害雨林”的產品。巴西出口的大豆和牛肉多都銷往了中國、歐盟和美國。

綠色和平組織表示,氣候變化和毀林開荒也會加劇干旱。森林火災會導致溫室氣體排放量增加,進而導致全球氣溫上升。隨著溫度的升高,嚴重的干旱會更加頻繁發生,甚至會延長雨林的旱季。

雖然存在以上因素,然而巴西的極右翼總統博索納羅卻在上周三聲稱,這次亞馬遜的森林大火是環保組織放的,原因是對政府削減了對他們的撥款不滿。當然,博索納羅的這些指責并沒有任何證據能夠證明。

對巴西自然環境的不斷惡化,政府是難辭其咎的。

巴西綠色和平組織的公共政策協調員馬西奧·阿斯特里尼稱,博索納羅的聲明“是為了掩蓋他所采取的反環境政策的后果。有些人抨擊他的政府是環境問題的罪魁禍首,而他的這些指責,只是為了把責任推給抨擊他的人。”

目前在亞馬遜燃燒的大火多數是人為造成的,而且主要是出于農業目的。放火的人大多是本地的農牧民或伐木工人。就在這個月,不少農民還參加了在亞馬遜地區的一條主干道附近舉行的“放火日”活動。綠色和平組織表示,這場活動導致該地區的火災增加了300%。

一些專家和環保人士認為,目前亞馬遜大火的失控之勢,與博索納羅的排外主義和反環保主義政策有關。毀林開荒不僅破壞了雨林,也對當地的土著社區造成了影響。在前總統迪爾瑪·羅塞夫和米歇爾·泰梅爾任內,雖然也有破壞雨林的問題,但這種行為在過去8個月里出現了急劇增長。

自從今年博索納羅上臺以來,他的政府一再減少對環保領域的投入,同時還削減了環境部門和維護土著居民權利部門的工作人員。

最近,博索納羅還炒了巴西國家空間研究所(INPE)負責人的魷魚。在此不久前,INPE剛剛發布了一份報告,顯示在博索納羅任內,巴西的毀林開荒率有所提高。博索納羅對記者表示:“在我看來,公布這些數字的目的,就是為了損害巴西和巴西政府的聲譽。”

博索納羅政府還砍掉了巴西環境執法局的2300萬美元經費。為了刺濟經濟,發展農業、礦業和化石能源開采等產業,政府還取消了一些旨在保護亞馬遜雨林的政策。

《巴西土著人之聲》稱,在博索納羅的領導下,土著人的土地遭到“攻擊和入侵”的情況愈加嚴重,針對土著社區的種族主義傾向也日益加重。一些土著權利組織表示,博索納羅的反環保主義立場,是導致土著社區遭受土地爭端和暴力的主要原因。

亞馬遜觀察的財務活動主任莫伊拉·伯斯對《財富》雜志表示,博索納羅“發表過一些極端排外主義言論,比如土著社區應該被清除等等。對于那些愿意用暴力手段驅逐亞馬遜原住民以獲取利潤的人來說,這些言論顯然助長了他們的氣焰。”

大火對地球有何影響?

亞馬遜雨林制造了全球20%以上的氧氣。因此,亞馬遜大火不僅僅會影響巴西,還會影響整個地球。

很多人將亞馬遜雨林稱為“地球之肺”,它對氣候起著重要的調節作用,對于農業生產、飲用水等方面也起著不可替代的作用。目前,亞馬遜的毀林開荒速度很可能帶來不可逆的后果。有科學家表示,亞馬遜雨林甚至有可能“退化成一個干旱的大草原”。

伯斯表示:“亞馬遜雨林是穩定氣候的一個重要的生態系統。這些樹木一旦被砍伐被燒掉,它們存儲的碳就會被釋放出來,而它們從大氣中吸收碳的能力就會消失。”他還表示,盡管通過重新造林讓亞馬遜雨林恢復原貌并非不可能,但這個過程也需要幾個世紀的時間。

而地球卻沒有這么長的時間可以等待了。

全球變暖是當前全球人口面臨的最主要的威脅之一。隨著全球氣溫持續上升,地球更加需要樹木來吸收空氣中的碳。地球上最大的雨林的消失,對人類必然有害無益。

巴西綠色和平組織的一位呼吁保護亞馬遜雨林的環保人士羅穆羅·巴蒂斯塔表示:“森林火災和氣候變化是一種惡性循環:隨著火災數量的增加,溫室氣體的排放量也在增加,使地球的總體溫度進一步上升,進而導致了嚴重干旱等極端災難性天氣的發生。”

亞馬遜大火能被撲滅嗎?

有專家表示,國際政治壓力可能是阻止當前亞馬遜地區大規模毀林活動的唯一方法。伯斯表示:“國際上的壓力要足夠大,迫使政府不得不作出回應。”

聯合國秘書長和世界各國的領導人已經對亞馬遜大火表示了關注。

法國總統馬克龍呼吁在G7峰會期間,就亞馬遜事態進行緊急會談。馬克龍的發言人表示,由于巴西政府對大火應對不力,法國將阻止今年早些時候達成的歐盟—南方共同市場貿易協定。對此,伯斯表示,如果貿易協定在沒有保護亞馬遜雨林的情況下繼續推進,“那將是給博索納羅開綠燈。”

愛爾蘭總理瓦拉德卡也表達了對亞馬遜大火的關心,德國和挪威也將停止向巴西政府的亞馬遜基金捐款。

然而問題要想徹底解決,就需要采取更廣泛、更積極的行動,包括恢復對亞馬遜的保護和重新植樹造林等,同時要追究從毀林中獲利的金融企業的責任。同時,那些從巴西進口牛肉、家禽和大豆的國家也應重新檢討他們的貿易政策。(財富中文網)

譯者:樸成奎

The Amazon rainforest has been on fire for the past three weeks, and it’s no accident. Here’s what you should know:

How often does the Amazon burn?

Fires are common in the Amazon during the region’s dry season, which typically starts in July and August and ends in mid-November. But this year there have been more than 72,000 fires across the country, with more than half of those occurring in the Amazon. That’s an 84% increase from the same period last year, according to data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, or INPE.

The Amazon is known to produce moisture and humidity, making it relatively resistant to wildfires, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Instead, it seems that a combination of droughts, and ranchers and farmers taking advantage of the dry season to burn and clear land for cattle, are to blame. The result is significant harm to both the rainforest, and the indigenous communities who live there.

What are the causes of the Amazon forest fires?

There are currently about 9,500 fires raging across the Amazon.

Deforestation, or the removal of forest and trees to convert land for non-forest use, is the main cause of the fires, and much of the deforestation currently happening in the Amazon is illegal.

The farming industry and international trade relationships are the main drivers of deforestation, more than 75% of which is caused by cattle ranching and soy production, according to a report from the NGO Amazon Watch. Soy beans and beef, two of Brazil’s main exports, are “forest-risk commodities” and most of it is going to China, the European Union, and the United States.

Droughts caused both by climate change and deforestation are also part of the problem, according to Greenpeace. The forest fires are contributing to higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to global temperatures rising. As these temperatures rise, major droughts become more frequent and can extend the forest’s dry season.

Despite these factors, Brazil’s far right President Jair Bolsonaro claimed on last Wednesday that NGOs were to blame for the wildfires in the Amazon. He said, without proof, that they were starting the fires because his government had cut their funding.

But the country’s government is at the center of the increasingly violent environmental degradation.

Márcio Astrini the public policy coordinator with Greenpeace Brazil called Bolsonaro’s statement “an attempt to conceal himself from the consequences of the anti-environmental policy he has been adopting.” Astrini added, “His accusation seeks to blame anyone who denounces the environmental problems created by his own administration.”

The fires burning across the Amazon right now are mostly agricultural and man-made, many of them started either by smallholders, loggers, or farmers who are clearing land for cattle. Just this month, farmers participated in a “Day of Fire” around a main road in the Amazon, which Greenpeace says caused a 300% increase in fires in the area.

Experts and activists see the current onslaught as related to Bolsonaro’s xenophobic and anti-environmental rhetoric, as deforestation is not only destroying the rainforest, but indigenous communities, as well. Deforestation was also a problem under the previous presidents Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer, but it has grown rapidly over the last eight months.

Since Bolsonaro took office this year, his administration has repeatedly rolled back environmental protections, cutting the staffing of both environmental and indigenous rights agencies.

The president recently fired the head of the INPE, the agency that tracks deforestation in the country, after it released a report showing the higher rates of deforestation under his administration. “The numbers, as I understand it, were released with the objective of harming the name of Brazil and its government,” Bolsonaro told reporters.

Bolsonaro’s government also cut $23 million from Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency, while dismantling policies that protect the Amazon in favor of advancing economic priorities, including agribusiness, mining, and fossil fuel extraction.

According to the Articulation of the Indigenous People of Brazil, under Bolsonaro’s leadership, “attacks and invasions” of indigenous lands have been on the rise, as has racism against Native communities. Some indigenous rights groups say the president’s anti-environmental stances are contributing to the land disputes and violence faced by their communities.

Bolsonaro “has said extremely xenophobic things about indigenous communities needing to be wiped out,” Moira Birss, Amazon Watch’s Finance Campaign Director told Fortune. “It’s clearly emboldening actors in the Amazon who are willing to use violence to remove” Native communities in favor of making a profit.

What do these forest fires mean for the planet?

The Amazon rainforest generates more than 20% of the world’s oxygen, meaning these fires will not only affect Brazil, but the entire planet.

Often referred to as the “lungs of the planet,” the Amazon plays an important role in balancing the climate, from farming to drinking water. The impacts of the current rate of deforestation could be irreversible, as scientists say the Amazon could “degrade into a dry savannah.”

“The Amazon is a vital ecosystem for climate stability,” said Birss. “When trees are cut down or burned down, all that carbon they’ve been storing is released and their ability to keep taking in carbon from the atmosphere is eliminated.” Birss says that while reforestation could happen and restore the Amazon to its old growth, the process would also take centuries.

And the planet doesn’t have much time.

Global warming is one of the greatest threats to the world population right now, and the planet needs trees to absorb carbon as global temperatures continue to rise. The loss of its biggest rainforest would be detrimental.

“Forest fires and climate change operate in a vicious cycle: as the number of fires increase, so do greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the planet’s overall temperature and the occurrence of extreme weather events, such as major droughts,” said Romulo Batista, an Amazon campaigner with Greenpeace Brazil.

Can the Amazon fires be stopped?

Experts say international political pressure may be the only way to stop the current onslaught on the Amazon. “The scale is one that requires a governmental response,” said Birss.

The UN secretary general and world leaders have expressed concern.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for emergency talks to put the state of the Amazon at the top of the agenda ahead of G7 summit. A spokesperson for the French president said France would block the EU-Mercosur trade deal reached earlier this year due to the Brazilian government’s response to the fires. If the trade deal moves forward without conditions for protecting the Amazon, Birss says, “that’s going to give a greenlight to Bolsonaro.”

Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar echoed the same sentiment, while Germany and Norway are halting donations to the Brazilian government's Amazon fund.

But the problem will require taking broader and more aggressive actions, including restoring Amazon protections and reforestation, while also holding accountable the financial companies that profit from deforestation. Likewise, governments importing beef, poultry, and soy from Brazil will need to review their trade policies.

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