Are Trump and China Motivating the Burning of the Amazon?

Are Trump and China Motivating the Burning of the Amazon?

As a reporter on the environment, and recently on tariffs, I cannot bypass the link between the tariffs and the burning of the Amazon rain forest.  The Amazon provides 20% of the earth’s oxygen.  The fires are putting a lot of sequestered Carbon back into the atmosphere as CO2.

The Amazon has 85% more fires this summer, now that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been elected on a platform of exploiting, rather than protecting the Amazon.  The exploitation of America was Trump’s hidden agenda, disguised behind the removing of government regulations that restrained businesses.  The fires are occurring along the road of farming in the Amazon.  Bolsonaro is not finding or punishing any of the arsonists.  He belatedly sent 45,000 troops to fight the fires, after world pressure threatened his economic growth dreams.

Trump’s China tariffs caused China to counterattack by banning all American agriculture, knowing it would hit soybean farms in Trump’s heartland.  But in looking elsewhere, Brazilian farmers may be planning to use their newly burnt and soon to be cleared farmland to plant soybeans, and also for grazing for the increasing beef market.  In rather short time this scenario could become evident.  If China goes ahead and makes these purchases, it will bear some guilt that will be charged against its efforts to combat climate change carbon emissions.  The largest bank, JPMorgan-Chase. is said to be handling the investment in the Amazon.

The rain forest does a lot of transpiring water, which leads to the clouds that causes the rain for the rain forest.  If too much of the forest is converted to farmland, the rain which supports the rest of the rain forest could be declining, which is called a critical point.

Another theory for the burning concerns rain and phosphorous.  Phosphorous is a chemical in DNA, RNA, and cells.  The phosphorous is washed off of rocks, and the west blowing winds across the Atlantic from the Sahara deserts renew it.  With farming, the phosphorous can get washed downstream, and the soil depleted.  So some of the burning may be due to farmers getting new soil that still has some phosphorous.  This cycle would continue to deforest the Amazon.

While the world’s top economic powers, the G-7, only sent a mere $20 million to help stop the fires.  Trump, who knows full well what Bolsonaro is up to, and supports him, stingied out on an American contribution.  Bolsonaro is as obstreperous as Trump is, and demands an apology from Macron before he uses the money.

We thought that fighting Trump’s attack on the environment in the courts, and running our own plans to achieve the Paris goals would be sufficient climate action.  We did not think that the Trump tariffs and China’s response would lead to the burning of the Amazon.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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