Watergeddon News: Rome is Burning, and Do We Really Care?
Updated: Sep 7, 2020
The Burning of the Amazon Affects the Earth's Entire Hydrological Water Cycle
When I look for patterns that could amplify and accelerate Watergeddon, I focus on indirect and highly connected and intertwined variables as much as the direct variables. I use a matrix as an entrepreneur and investor that looks at the concepts of "known and unknown variables." The variables fall into four quadrants: known knowns, known unknowns, unknown knowns, and unknown unknowns.
For example, we know that population density as a function of water resources can be viewed as part of a known unknown in some areas of the world because when you have an accelerated depletion of aquifers due to over-pumping, you know it's happening. Still, you may not be able to figure out to what extent the deficit has occurred under the ground. You may see the depletion rate, but then you don't know how much is left.
"Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest—the lungs which produces 20% of our planet's oxygen—is on fire."
Deforestation is an indirect variable to water scarcity but what we don't know is to what extent. My prediction is that deforestation could have substantially higher adverse effects than just climate change. In 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron urged the Group of Seven nations' leaders to make deforestation a priority as part of their environmental, political, and trade policies. He tweeted, "Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest—the lungs which produces 20% of our planet's oxygen—is on fire."
If you look at Amazon as one of the critical lungs to our planet and compare that burning situation with heavy cigarette smokers, well, we know where this is heading. It's not pretty. But what needs more emphasis is how Amazon affects the entire hydrological water cycle across the globe.
The deforestation patterns are disturbing because of the current political corruption in Brazil. Every week, multiple articles discuss the deforestation of the Amazon. And because of the Pandemic, there is another concern. Gold mining in the Amazon is increasing at an alarming rate, which increases water pollution.
So what can we do to stop the deforestation quickly? We could put pressure on the Brazilian government by boycotting products such as soybean and beef, which contribute to the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. But would that be enough?
I grew up in a town in Serbia that sat on top of the ancient Roman ruins. In Roman times, the town was called Sirmium. Today, it is Sremska Mitrovica. I can fully appreciate the old saying, "Rome is Burning." The expression is based on the story that Nero played the fiddle while watching Rome burn in 64 A.D. This meaning is that one occupies oneself with unimportant matters and neglects to pay attention to priorities during a crisis.
Here's the bad news. It's not just that the Amazon is burning. In America, California, and other states, forests are burning too for different reasons. But the trees are burning, nevertheless. How do we solve the deforestation problem globally when there is so much corruption in the world? I have been thinking deeply about this for the last eighteen months. I'll share some ideas in the upcoming book, Watergeddon.
IN THE NEWS
In Brazil, where 60% of the Amazon is located, more than 3,500 square miles were lost in the 12 months ended in July, a 35% increase from the same period the previous year, according to preliminary data released by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research.
Environmentalists said that Mr. Mourão speaks in defense of the forest but that, in practice, deforestation is expanding fast. “If the government doesn’t act with a shock treatment, it is going to be very hard to reverse deforestation and burning of trees,” said Marcio Astrini, executive secretary at the Brazilian Climate Observatory, a coalition of environmental organizations.
Though deforestation had dropped in the Amazon starting in 2004, the vice president said it began rising in about 2012. The devastation, though, skyrocketed in 2019, according to the space agency. The vice president attributed the problem in part to the vastness of the Amazon—about the size of Western Europe—and the dearth of a government presence.
By Jacey Fortin, NY Times, September 4, 2020
Record-breaking temperatures are expected across the western United States. They might be followed by wind that could worsen fires in California, or storms that could bring snow in Colorado.
Extreme heat is in the forecast for other western states, too, including Nevada, Utah and Arizona. In Colorado, temperatures in the Denver area are expected to reach the high 90s on Saturday and Sunday, breaking records for early September.
Heat and weather volatility are both related to climate change, said Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit advocacy organization.
By Terrence McCoy and Heloísa Traiano, The Washington Post, September 4, 2020
Driven by the skyrocketing gold prices, surging unemployment and lax enforcement by a distracted government, people are traveling from all over the country to hundreds of illegal mining sites, invading protected Indigenous lands, stripping swaths of forest bare, poisoning rivers with mercury and laundering illegal gold through mineral shops. And they’re largely getting away with it.
As Brazil shifted its attention to the pandemic, exports have more than quadrupled, rising to $245 million during the first six months of this year. Deforestation associated with mining on Indigenous lands, where such activity is illegal, has reached record highs.
In interviews, law enforcement officials, Indigenous leaders, federal inspectors and even gold miners say the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro has neglected its responsibility as steward of the Amazon. At a time when scientists say the forest is being dangerously destabilized by deforestation, Bolsonaro has pushed to scale back enforcement and legalize mining on Indigenous land.
Illegal gold mining accounts for only a small fraction of deforestation in the Amazon — far less than agricultural practices — but its effect is more insidious. Mercury is an essential tool in the process, used to collect and purify gold traces found in the soil. Its toxicity seeps into the soil, air and water. Maritime ecologies have collapsed. Indigenous communities have been poisoned. Years after mining, the earth remains barren and lifeless.
We can avoid the catastrophe.