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Report Shows Corporations And Bolsonaro Teaming Up To Destroy The Amazon



Report Shows Corporations And Bolsonaro Teaming Up To Destroy The Amazon
Photo Credit: Mint Press News

Joe Catron, Mint Press News

As deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest reaches the highest level in a decade, the rainforest’s indigenous peoples and their supporters have called for action against the political and business interests they blame for a spike in illegal logging and other resource extraction.

report released by Amazon Watch as part of its ongoing “Complicity in Destruction” campaign aims not only to spotlight the role of North American and Western European financiers, importers, and traders in the ongoing destruction of the Amazon, but also to mobilize support for a boycott launched by the National Indigenous Mobilization (MNI) against the Brazilian agribusiness and mining interests encroaching on the threatened region. The report says:

“The MNI requests solidarity from the international community to support these efforts, which aim to leverage global markets in order to moderate the behavior of the agroindustrial sector, as a means to halt [Brazil President Jair] Bolsonaro’s assault, ultimately protecting and restoring environmental safeguards and human rights.”

Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch’s Program Director, told MintPress News that the inauguration of right-wing strongman Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s president on January 1 lent fresh urgency to the campaign.

Bolsonaro has overseen the most significant rollback of, and full-on assault on, human rights and environmental protection in Brazil since the fall of the country’s military dictatorship and the reinstallation of democracy in 1985,” Poirier said, adding:

“He’s hearkening back to an era of rampant environmental destruction and rights abuses that some would call genocide of indigenous peoples, by attacking socio-environmental policy that is responsible for indigenous land rights, that is responsible for the protection of forests in the country, and he’s doing so at a very rapid pace.”

Among his first moves as president, Bolsonaro stripped Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) of its authority to create new reserves for indigenous nations and transferred control of both it and the country’s forest service to its agriculture ministry.

“Human rights abuses and environmental rollbacks”

Satellite data released by INPE, Brazil’s space agency, earlier this month showed the clear-cutting of 285 square miles, or 739 square kilometers, of the Amazon in May, the highest level of deforestation in a decade and more than twice the rate two years ago.

Observers cite an escalation in illegal logging and land theft during the Bolsonaro administration, with the first raid on an indigenous reserve occurring December 30, two days before Bolsonaro took office.

Poirier added that the MNI campaign intended to target corporate interests culpable not only for their own abuses, but also for Bolsonaro’s presidency:

“The ‘Complicity in Destruction’ campaign works to pressure the most important sectors in Brazil’s economy — which are also responsible for human-rights abuses and environmental rollbacks, and also bringing Jair Bolsonao to power.

By targeting these sectors, we also intend to influence the behavior of the Bolsonaro regime, because we are targeting a strategic economic actor that is also a strategic political actor behind Bolsonaro’s rise to power, and that is responsible for his socio-environmental policy.”

In April, Bolsonaro — who once paid a fine of $2,500 for illegally fishing in a forested coastal reserve — announced the dissolution of Brazil’s National Council of the Environment (CONOMA), a government body with over 100 members, including independent representatives of environmental groups, tasked with protecting the Amazon.

He proposed replacing it with a new committee of six: Ricardo Salles, his nominee for environment minister and a close ally, along with five other presidential appointees. Poirier noted:

“These are a wish list of Brazil’s agribusiness sector and its mining sector, to penetrate into protected areas, and that’s precisely what Bolsonaro’s doing, to the detriment of the human rights of indigenous peoples and traditional peoples in the Amazon, and to the detriment of global climatic stability.”

As one of the world’s largest non-oceanic “carbon sinks,” the Amazon plays a significant role in tempering climate change, absorbing a large — though declining — amount of the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide, while also emitting 20% of its oxygen.

“By ‘worst actors,’ I’m talking about environmental criminals”

Despite their staunch backing of Bolsonaro and the ruralista caucus supporting him from within Brazil’s Congress, the companies profiled by Amazon Watch had achieved notoriety well before Bolsonaro’s rise to power. Poirier told MintPress:

“He specific corporate targets in the report are commodity importers, traders, and financial institutions that are doing business with the worst actors in Brazil’s agro-industrial sector.”

By ‘worst actors,’ I’m talking about environmental criminals, those who have been found guilty and fined by Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, for environmental crimes ranging from illegal deforestation, to improper paperwork for wood, to even slave labour in their supply chains, since 2017.”

While an earlier report also analysed Brazilian mining interests and their international ties, the most recent focuses on agribusiness, particularly its beef, soy, leather, timber and sugar sectors. Poirier stated:

“The corporate actors internationally — the 27 importing companies and commodity traders that we list, and the dozens of financial institutions — are essentially enabling the behavior of these actors, which we consider to be emblematic behavior of these industries.”

Through their campaign, Poirier added, Amazon Watch and the MNI hope to “call on these companies to become agents to moderate the behavior of the worst actors, which is to say that they should carry out their own due diligence with their supply chains, and cut ties with the worst actors.”

About the Author

Joe Catron is a MintPress News contributing journalist. He covers Palestine and Israel and other human rights issues. Catron has written frequently for Electronic Intifada and Middle East Eye, and co-edited The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, an anthology of accounts by detainees freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange.

This article (Report Shows Corporations and Bolsonaro Teaming Up to Destroy the Amazon) was originally published at Mint Press News and is re-posted here with permission.

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Rare Wave-Like Clouds Over Virginia Mountain Look Like Van Gogh’s Famous ‘Starry Night’



Rare Wave-Like Clouds Over Virginia Mountain Look Like Van Gogh's Famous 'Starry Night'
Photo Credit: Yahoo

Eric Althoff, Yahoo

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 9: Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh at Moma on March 9, 2016 in New York, New York. (Photo by Santi Visalli/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 9: Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh at Moma on March 9, 2016 in New York, New York. (Photo by Santi Visalli/Getty Images)

It was indeed a starry, starry night for Virginia photographer Amy Hunter, who managed to capture the night-time celestial phenomenon known as Kelvin-Helmholtz waves, wherein specific atmospheric conditions create clouds that appear in wave-like patterns in the sky.

Hunter’s photograph was taken over Smith Mountain in the southwestern region of Virginia on Tuesday. She sent the photograph on to her local news affiliate, which immediately responded that the sight is indeed “very rare.”

Kelvin-Helmholtz waves occur when the higher layer of air moves at a faster speed than the lower-level air. Accordingly, the higher layer “scoops” the top of a lower cloud layer, thereby creating the wave-like shapes that appear similar to the crests of ocean waves. Their appearance often signals turbulent air, which can be a hurdle for aircraft in the area.

KDKA meteorologist Ray Petelin explained that Kelvin-Helmholtz waves form when two layers of air are moving against one another at different speeds, which results in the crest-like clouds called a “shear,” which occurs most often during windy conditions such as those that topped Smith Mountain Wednesday.

Velocity shear occurs when winds are traveling at different speeds at different heights in the atmosphere,” he said earlier this summer. “In the case of these cloud patterns, the winds are moving faster at the top of the cloud than the winds at the bottom of the cloud, just like how waves are created on water.”

The phenomenon is named for 19th century meteorologists Lord Kelvin and Hermann von Helmholtz, who explained the physics behind the cloud formations as part of their research into vortex dynamics.

The unusual weather occurrence has rarely been captured on film, but perhaps its most famous representation in any medium was in the 1889 painting “Starry Night” by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh painted the post-impressionist image while committed to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in the South of France. Continuing to generate art during his commitment was thought to initially help with Van Gogh’s fits and depression, but he soon relapsed, and the work took on another darker dimension, with the color blue taking over the color palette as his mental state deteriorated.

Starry Night” hangs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. According to MoMa, at that late stage in his life, Van Gogh’s style had been informed by other artists he met in France, including pointillist Georges Seurat, as the Impressionism period came to its end. “Post-Impressionism,” MoMa says, came to define a period in which artists used “bold colours and expressive, often symbolic images,” such as those wave-like clouds Van Gogh captured on “Starry Night,” arguably his most famous canvas.

Van Gogh died on July 29, 1890, barely a year after completing the work.

This article (Rare Wave-Like Clouds Over Virginia Mountain Look Like Van Gogh’s Famous ‘Starry Night’) was originally published at Yahoo and is re-posted here under Creative Commons.

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NASA Reports That The Earth Is Greener Now Than 20 Years Ago Thanks To Reforestation Efforts



NASA Reports That The Earth Is Greener Now Than 20 Years Ago Thanks To Reforestation Efforts
Photo Credit: Fox News

With all of the discouraging news about global deforestation and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, it’s good to know that people in many parts of the world are having great success at re-foresting planet earth.

In Bhutan, for example, when the nation was celebrating the birth of a new prince in 2016, people came together to plant 108,000 trees, which will become a new forest within a couple of decades. Ecuador set a world record in 2017 for planting a whopping 647,250 trees in a single day. Also in 2017, more than 1.5 million volunteers came together to plant 66 million trees in just 12 hours, setting another world record.

Now, NASA is reporting that in the findings of a 20 year study of the earth, there are actually more trees today than there were two decades ago, thanks in large part to the efforts of countries and communities in India and China.

NASA Reports That The Earth Is Greener Now Than 20 Years Ago Thanks To Reforestation Efforts
Photo Credit: NASA

The findings are the result of 20 years of data collection from NASA instruments on board two satellites orbiting earth.

“Taken all together, the greening of the planet over the last two decades represents an increase in leaf area on plants and trees equivalent to the area covered by all the Amazon rainforests. There are now more than two million square miles of extra green leaf area per year, compared to the early 2000s – a 5% increase.” [NASA]

A more detailed explanation from the study:

“Satellite data show increasing leaf area of vegetation due to direct factors (human land-use management) and indirect factors (such as climate change, CO2 fertilization, nitrogen deposition and recovery from natural disturbances). Among these, climate change and CO2fertilization effects seem to be the dominant drivers. However, recent satellite data (2000–2017) reveal a greening pattern that is strikingly prominent in China and India and overlaps with croplands world-wide. China alone accounts for 25% of the global net increase in leaf area with only 6.6% of global vegetated area. The greening in China is from forests (42%) and croplands (32%), but in India is mostly from croplands (82%) with minor contribution from forests (4.4%). “[Source]

Furthermore, the news serves as a positive counter to the trend of pollution and environmental degradation we see today in Asia:

“China and India account for one-third of the greening, but contain only 9% of the planet’s land area covered in vegetation – a surprising finding, considering the general notion of land degradation in populous countries from overexploitation.”  ~Chi Chen, Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University and lead author of the study

The satellites have recorded photos of the earth every day for 20 years, creating a massive data set that is allowing researchers and biologists to better understand how to preserve the world’s forests.
The satellites have recorded photos of the earth every day for 20 years, creating a massive data set that is allowing researchers and biologists to better understand how to preserve the world’s forests.

“This long-term data lets us dig deeper,” said Rama Nemani, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center and a co-author of the new work. “When the greening of the Earth was first observed, we thought it was due to a warmer, wetter climate and fertilization from the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to more leaf growth in northern forests, for instance. Now, with the MODIS data that lets us understand the phenomenon at really small scales, we see that humans are also contributing.”

Final Thoughts

The message is clear: if we come together we can easily remedy the ecological problems we have created here on earth. Let this good news serve as inspiration to participate in the re-greening of earth. It also demonstrates how humans can address serious problems once they become aware of what’s really going on.

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” ~Chinese Proverb

About the Author

Vic Bishop is a staff writer for He is an observer of people, animals, nature, and he loves to ponder the connection and relationship between them all. A believer in always striving to becoming self-sufficient and free from the matrix, please track him down on Facebook.

This article (NASA Reports that the Earth is Greener Now than 20 Years Ago Thanks to Reforestation Efforts) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Vic Bishop and

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It’s Official: The Bee Has Been Declared “Most Important Living Being On The Planet”



It’s Official: The Bee Has Been Declared “Most Important Living Being On The Planet”
Photo Credit:

The extinction of bees would mean the end of humanity.

At a meeting of the Royal Geographic Society of London, Earthwatch Institute declared bees the most invaluable species on this planet, as reported by The Guardian in 2008. And along with it comes this disturbing piece of news. If the bees were to disappear today, mankind would follow suit very soon!

Scientists and wildlife experts have added bees to the list of species that are doomed to extinction in the near future if humanity does not do something about its most beneficial insects.

The Importance Of Bees

The loss of bees will be disastrous for mankind as they are irreplaceable. The relation between bees and flowering plants is one of the most extensive, harmonious, and interdependent cooperation on the planet. A relationship spawned over a period of nearly 100 million years has led to the procreation of a rich diversity of species and also promoted the elevation of the human species on earth.

There are more than 20,000 species of bees. Yet, an overwhelming number of them do not live in hives. They vary in size from 2mm to 4cm and do not adapt well to new plant types.

75% of the food crops that produce the seeds and fruits we consume are influenced, at least partly, by pollination. 87% of the leading food crops worldwide are supported wholly or partially by pollination. This, in turn, feeds thousands of animal and bird species. They are the main reason for the diversity of plant species. The decline in the bee population would adversely affect major crops like coffee, cocoa, almonds, tomatoes, and apples to name just a few, as per the reports of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The oldest known sweetener and also the healthiest, honey has been much sought after since ancient times. The total export of just leading honey-producing nations was worth $2.4 billion way back in 2009. This is another vast source of food that would just disappear with the bees.

The monetized value of the global crops that are directly dependent on pollinators is in the region of $235 billion to $577 billion every year. This was a free gift of nature. Relying on the artificial process is close to impossible. The only way out is to support the process which leads to natural pollination.

Deforestation & Pesticides

We have already let loose processes that may in the not too distant future lead to the extinction of the planet’s leading pollinator and with it the extinction of countless other species including man. The need to sustain our ever-increasing population has led to the use of methods to increase production at any cost, especially the clearing of forests for farmland and the incremental use of pesticides. 40% of the invertebrate pollinator species, especially bees are facing extinction. This has led to a steep decline in the population of both wild and domestic bee population. Vast populations have been decimated in some parts of the globe.

Pests, Diseases, & Mobiles

The transmission of pests and pathogens from other areas due to globalization has affected the population of bees in some areas. The waves produced by mobile telephones are being blamed. The Federal Institute of Technology of Switzerland says that bees are disoriented by waves emitted during calls. Daniel Favre, Biologist, and other researchers produced evidence that showed that bees were disturbed and warned other bees when exposed to the waves, as reported in The Australian.

A total prohibition on the use of toxic pesticides, especially neurotoxins and using natural alternatives is the immediate necessity.  Pollinator-friendly practices in agriculture are a must. Farmers need to be aware of the pollination needs of specific crops and act accordingly. Wildlife habitats must be preserved. Farmers can diversify farms to make food resources always available for the bees. The need for restoring ecological friendly practices must be encouraged. This will preserve the habitats of the pollinators.

By Mayukh Saha | | Republished with permission

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More Than Half Of Native European Tree Species Face Extinction!



More Than Half Of Native European Tree Species Face Extinction!
Photo Credit: Getty

Europe is home to some of the most amazing trees such as the ash, elm and rowan trees, all of which are found exclusively in Europe. Unfortunately now a study has revealed that they’re declining and are at high risk of extinction due to invasive diseases, pests, pollution and urban development taking a toll on the landscape. This makes it difficult and could certainly complicate efforts to tackle the climate crises through reforestation.

David Allen of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), who produced the study:

“It is a threat. It is not just the naturally occurring trees and woodlands, it is also some of the big commercial conifers that are threatened by invasive species.”

How Do Invasive Species Enter The Forest?

The invasive species enters through the trade of plants or untreated timber. This is the largest threat to the native trees. Not only are these trees found only in Europe, but sometimes only in one Valley or region!

Countries such as the UK want to import more saplings to help draw out the carbon from the atmosphere. Although, it’s very important for young trees to be carefully screened to avoid any diseases and pests entering the country that would eventually deplete the existing forests. “We are encouraged to plant more trees, quite rightly, but we have to be very careful to ensure they don’t come with pest species. We need to be very careful about biosecurity,” Allen said.

Greatest Risk

The IUCN’s European red list of trees found that 58% of the continent’s 454 native trees are threatened and 15% (66 species) are critically endangered.

Sorbus leyana, also known as Ley’s whitebeam at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Credit: Col Ford and Natasha de Vere

Those at greatest risk are in the Sorbus genus. These include the rowan, mountain ash, and Ley’s whitebeam, all of which are located in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. Researchers note this particular tree is a recent hybrid and from the beginning of time there was always a very small population in a restricted area, so the knock-on effects are likely to be small.

Invasive Species

Tim Rich, a contributor to the study, was alarmed by the number of dying ash trees due to an invasive fungus. He said:

“I’ve been keeping an eye on it over the past five years. Last year, I began to get quite worried. This year, huge areas are experiencing a dieback and it’s not just affecting saplings like it was before. Now it’s whole big trees. I drove in some parts of Pembrokeshire recently, and every five or 10 metres there was an ash tree dead or dying. This is a major problem – way worse than I expected it to be.”

The horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) native to southeastern Europe is beloved by generations that played conkers as children in playground games. The shiny polished brown conker inside its spiked fruit is the highlight of the tree because, without it, there is no conkers game. The tree has been classified as vulnerable due to the spread of an invasive leaf-miner moth that damages its leaves. This can also add to existing pressures from forest fires.

Not only are trees dying from invasive fungus and leaf miner moths but also from tourist resort expansions, unsustainable logging, housing estates, pig farms, and some are negatively affected by excessive nitrogen depositions from air pollution.

Overlooked Species

In order to determine priorities for conservation, the European red list examined the status of overlooked species. They found that nearly 20-50% of terrestrial mollusks, shrubs, and bryophytes, such as moss and liverworts, are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, expanded agriculture and climate change. These species may not be glamorous but they do play a vital role in natural life support systems through oxygen production, food production, recycling nutrients, and soil regeneration.

European Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) photographed at dawn in October 2008, in Co. Wicklow in Ireland. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“The high extinction threats revealed by the European red list are very alarming, given that 92% of the mollusc species native to Europe are endemic to the continent. Thus, once these species are lost from Europe, they are gone for ever. In order to restore terrestrial mollusc numbers in Europe, essential changes will be needed in policies relating to land use, along with careful control of urbanisation and sustainable management of semi-natural areas.”

Forests are literally being eaten away, along with any natural environment that still stands. There needs to be more protected areas, improved monitoring and increased research on forests and individual tree species. Otherwise, there will be no more forests left in this world to save.

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