Sunday, May 9, 2010

Priorities of the Brazilian Government regarding Deforestation


Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Because many of the countries that the Amazon resides in have bad economies, the main priority that drives many of the people and organizations to strip the Amazon of its resources is money. The Amazon rainforest is a huge untapped mass of resources, like trees minerals and oil, which can yield a high profit by selling them to more developed countries. Because of this, “the simplest solution to these [economic] problems appears to lie in the resources of the Amazon. The governments hope that they can feed their poor and repay their debts through the development of the rainforest” (Darv). The nations that the Amazon lies within, argue that because countries like the United States have ravaged their environment for resources, they have all rights to use the Amazon how they please. “Developing the rainforest is a short-term solution at best. It quickly uses up resources that cannot be replaced,” and, “when the resources have been used, the economic and social problems that the Amazonian nations stared with will remain” (Darv). This means that even if the Amazonian nations can ravage the rainforest of its resources, it will be in vain because once it is gone, they will require a new source of revenue.

The governments of the world have the power to stop the destruction through laws and restrictions, but many of the laws that were made to protect the rainforest are weak and not well enforced. In addition, many of the more developed countries look the other way because the Amazon is a cheap way of getting the resources they need at a premium. “Government permits are required to log in the Amazon. In reality, however, environmental agencies lack the authority to enforce logging regulations” (Darv). Because there aren’t enough officers in Brazil’s environmental protection agency to patrol even half of the rainforest, many of the mining and deforesting isn’t caught or stopped. “Ninety-four percent of all fines that the officers do impose are thrown out in court. The result is that 80 percent of all logging in the Amazon in done illegally” (Darv).

Because money is such a powerful motivator for those who take the resources from the Amazon, the world’s governments can use their economic power to slow or even stop the destruction of the rainforest. If an Amazonian nation wanted, “to build a road into the Amazon, the chances are good that it will turn to a foreign bank for help” (Darv). Without a loan to pay for the build, the Amazonian nation wouldn’t be able to complete the build. The governments of Brazil and all over the world need to band together under the Catholic Social Teaching theme of the Role of Government and Subsidiary to increase their control of the illegal destruction of the Amazon. Catholics have to petition their governments to stop them from overlooking the disrespect with which miners and lumberers are treating the rainforest and its inhabitants.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Deforestation and the effects on Climate Change


Thanks to the depletion of trees in the Amazon Rainforest, the amount of carbon dioxide has increased because there are not enough trees to balance the oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. "According to the Worldwatch Institute, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased 24% since 1860, and about half of that increase has occurred since 1958. If that rate rate continues, the planet could heat up by 1.5 C to 4.5 C by the year 2030" (Gallant). If the earth heats up, there will be more droughts in certain areas on Earth and there will be more floods in other parts of the Earth, which harms the agriculture of many lesser developed countries.

Also, "Trees determine rainfall and replenishes the Earth. As more water gets put back in the atmosphere, clouds form and provide another way to block out the sun's heat" (Stock/Rochen). The trees of the Amazon Rainforest help regulate the heat on Earth and if we continue the deforestation of the rainforest, the Earth will continue to heat up in an unnatural rate.

Thankfully, most of the countries in the world are trying to live up to the Catholic Teaching of Stewardship for the common good of mankind by setting up a convention in Copenhagen, where they will discuss about how the countries should deal with Climate change. This proves to be that globalization is helping the rainforest. With the help of REDD "or Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation, a complex set of regulations that would help developing countries keep their rain forests standing by turning their carbon-storing capacity into a source of income" The only problem is that " REDD has not yet established a way to recognize the rights of the indigenous communities who live in most of the forest areas...[and] REDD does not provide any guarantees that forests could not still be cut down" (Swink). Because of many countries that depend on resources such as wood, oil, and other resources that raise carbon emissions in the atmosphere, they cause the REDD to have many flaws. This brings up to my question. Can every nation on Earth agree to follow the Catholic Social Teaching of Stewardship and the Common Good so that the rainforest is saved and that the developing countries with the rainforest can gain economically by protecting the rainforest? Can all the countries i the world come together to stop the deforestation of the rain forest and reduce climate change?


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Deforestation's Effects on Indigenous People


It is an undeniable fact that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has a tremendous impact on both plants and animals. However, the consequences of deforestation do not only affect wildlife, but also jeopardize the habitats of the rainforest’s indigenous people. Case studies have shown that several outsiders, in the pursuit of personal gains, have invaded native reserves and used various devices to deprive the indigenous population of their traditional lands and forest. Cattle ranchers, loggers, and land speculators, for example, have cleared several forests near navigable streams that most fish species depend on. Fish is the primary source of protein for the indigenous people, but as a result of felling, fish reproductions have been affected. The process of deforestation has forced the native population to turn to legal alternatives. Unfortunately, even with the support of the Church, their efforts have proved ineffective (“Effects of Deforestation”).

The story of Sister Dorothy Stang is a primary example of the Church’s efforts to exemplify the principles of Rights and Responsibilities and Option for the Poor and Vulnerable. Sister Stang moved to Brazil with the intention “to help poor farmers build independent futures for their families.” On February 12, 2005, however, Stang was shot to death by hired gunmen. Her death came less than a week after meeting with the country’s human rights officials about threats to local farmers from illegal loggers and ranchers (Notre Dame de Namur University).

The Catholic Social Teaching principles of Rights and Responsibilities and Option for the Poor and Vulnerable state that “every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency.” Furthermore, they state that “our tradition, as Catholics, instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first” (“Seven Core Values of Catholic Social Teaching”). As a Catholic majority, how can the people of Brazil prevent further deforestation and thus put into effect the principles of Catholic Social Teaching to work toward the common good?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Deforestation's impact on plant life


In discussing the deforestation of Amazon, another topic that cannot be put aside is the aftermath on plant life. The Amazon rain forest is the largest of all tropical rain forests. "It sprawls across 2.3 million square miles-an area nearly as large as the United States" (Johnson). About one-third of the world's total number of flowering plants, which are about 80,000 species, grow in Amazon with help from the Amazon, the world's second longest river, which holds about one-fifth of all the fresh water on the planet. Tress in the Amazon rainforest are also known for producing more than 20% of the world's oxygen supply. The great rainforest, however, is now being destroyed due to different means and reasons. Rich in resources and energies, the Amazon was first exposed to industry for its rubber tress called Hevea brasiliensis. "Exploitation of rubber for international markets began in earnest in the mid 19th century" (Oldfield). Between the early 1960s and the end of the 20th century, the Brazilian Government encouraged developments which led to huge cattle ranches and construction of 3,400-mile trans-Amazon highway. This ongoing and unlimited developments are burning the cutting down the tress for handful of corporations' advantages.

As well as for the endangered animals, 'Stewardship of God's Creations' can be applied to this problem. For God had created the earth for all's good, it is our responsibility to find the reasonable limit and right treatment for environment. Also, for this particular topic, I believe the "Role of Government and Subsidiarity" is also important because the role of government in settling the limit of exploitation is crucial.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Animal Extinction


An undeniable dilemma troubling Brazil is the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. The felling of trees arises for the sake of mining, logging, urbanization, farming, and ranching; this undoubtedly presents damaging circumstances not only upon wildlife but also upon humanity as a whole.
We shall first examine the impact that deforestation wields against animal life: the disruption of delicate ecosystems strips countless species of their habitats. "Today, more than 20% of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed and is gone forever;" in light of this reality, "experts also estimate that 130 species of plants, animals, and insects are lost every day. At the current rate of destruction, it is estimated that the last remaining rainforests could be destroyed in less than 40 years." (Schaffner). For example, a four-square-mile area of rainforest alone may “contain … 125 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, 100 species of reptiles, and 60 species of amphibians” (Wright). Particularly, Amazonia is home to "more than 1,500 kinds of birds," whose extinction looms in the irresponsible exploitation of the environment (Galloway).
However, it is here that we venture to overcome the reckless shortsightedness of deforestation. Brazil must constructively channel its Catholic majority toward sustainable development in accordance to the notion of stewardship.

The essential question is this: how may principles of Catholic Social Teaching encourage individuals to combat Brazilian deforestation and thereby the subsequent animal extinction?