Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning

The Amazon Rainforest fire is just one of several recent crises that highlight the need for real swft and bold action against climate change.

Yes, people--this is really happening. The largest rain forest in the world is on fire. Yet the lead on the news is about stock markets and politics. It is a telling sign of just how disconnected we have become with the planet we live on.

For years, scientists have been warning us that we need to drastically reduce our carbon emissions to even try to preserve a habitable planet for future generations to live on. Yet it seems we have political parties around the world who basically scoff at the notion of doing anything about it. Some cling to their religious beliefs their deity won’t let it happen. Others dismiss scientific finding out of hand when it suits their agenda.

“I’m not a scientist. I am interested in protecting Kentucky’s economy. I’m interested in having low cost electricity.” — Mitch McConnell

Here in the United States, that party is the Republican Party. Here are a few gems from some of their politicians:
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky
Senate majority leader, said he was “distressed” by the US-China deal to cut emissions announced this week. He was likely also surprised, as he spent his recent reelection campaign saying he would not consider emissions caps because “nobody else is going to do that,” as he told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
“I’m not a scientist. I am interested in protecting Kentucky’s economy, I’m interested in having low cost electricity,” he said.
Translation: I don’t want to do anything because no one else is. I’d rather lower electrical bills than make sure my grand kids will be able to live on this planet.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, has taken different routes to denial, from saying he’s not a scientist to second-guessing the data. “I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate,” he said in a May interview on ABC News. Here's the full statement:
"Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to man-made activity. I do not agree with that.
I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That’s what I do not — and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy."
Translation: Thought I trust and rely on science for everything else to include travel, technology and oil exploration, but in this one instance I will chose to completely ignore what scientists are telling me since it doesn’t suit my agenda.
The Republican Party often call itself the party of “Fiscal Responsibility.” Yet under Donald Trump...
President Donald Trump has blasted bipartisan politicians for failing to address the federal debt and repeatedly vowed to eliminate it within eight years. On his watch, it has exploded to more than $22 trillion.
The country was already headed for a $1 trillion deficit this year. Yet, the president has made clear his support for the federal budget deal reached Monday, which would increase spending by billions against a backdrop of lower tax receipts.
“House Republicans should support the TWO YEAR BUDGET AGREEMENT which greatly helps our Military and our Vets,” the president said Thursday of the bill, which would lift the debt ceiling until July 2021 and permanently end a series of automatic spending cuts. “I am totally with you!”
Crafted by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the deal would give both Republicans and Democrats bigger budgets for fiscal priorities. It would increase spending by about approximately $320 billion, with equal amounts going to defense and domestic agencies.
That could amount to $1.7 trillion in projected debt levels over the next decade, according to estimates by the Committee for a Responsible Budget.
It’s funny how when it’s something Republicans want, we always seem to find more money to spend. Yet when it comes to trying to ensure that our planet can sustain our children and grandchildren money suddenly becomes an issue.
Climate change is real. This isn’t a bunch of crazy people on social media saying this. This is NASA, the American Meteorology Society, The Australian Academy of Sciences, and hundreds more scientific societies and agencies from around the world. Here’s a list:

If you want to do a deep dive in to why these organizations agree that Climate Change is driven by human activity, NASA has a website dedicated to that purpose.

At the same time the Democratic Party, which at least accepts that climate change is a real issue, won’t have a debate for it’s 2020 presidential candidates that will focus solely on this issue.


This is not just a national issue--it’s a global issue. Climate change will affect the future of all of humanity. Why would they do this? According to Vice News:
Democratic National Committee officials voted down the resolution that would’ve called for an official climate debate by a margin of 17 to 8 at a party meeting in San Francisco Thursday. If the DNC doesn’t host a climate debate, the candidates could opt to participate in a non-DNC sanctioned debate. But by participating, they could be sanctioned by the DNC, which means being potentially barred from any further DNC-sponsored debates.
The article continues:
DNC chief Tom Perez opposed the climate debate and doesn’t think it benefits the Democrats to hold any single-issue debates.
Joe Biden’s press secretary, Symone Sanders also doesn’t support a climate debate — even though the former vice president and presidential candidate has said that he supports one .
It is critical to emphasize this point. Not only has the DNC voted down a debate with a sole focus on climate change… but because of the DNC rules any candidates who participates in any non-DNC sanctioned debate will be banned from future DNC sanctioned debates. This is ridiculous. Clearly this issue isn’t being taken seriously enough… by either party.

A debate is about more than just putting candidates ideas against each other. It is an opportunity to truly articulate the severity of climate change to the public. It’s an opportunity to inform the citizenry and potentially change the minds of those who opt to bury their heads in the sand about this issue. Instead, it seems as though the DNC is content with putting the fate of all of humanity on par with every other issue.

Even as important as they are, the economy and health care won’t matter one bit if we continue on this course. According to the United Nations, we have 11 years to have done enough to prevent irreversible climate change. That was as of March 2019--before the fire in the Amazon Rainforest.

Also, this week Iceland had a “funeral” for the Okjökull glacier. It is the first glacier that has been lost to climate change. This event follows “The hottest July on record”. In 30 days, we have seen at least three major events that are signalling that half measures and incrementalism is not sufficient to turning things around.

During the ceremony in Iceland, they placed a plaque where the glacier once stood which said the following:
Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as glacier,
In the next 200 years all our main glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done.
Only you know if we did it.
It’s not just about fossil fuels either. In June 2019, reports were surfacing about toxic algae in Florida’s waterways. It has gotten so bad that it has started to affect the tourism industry.
Florida’s waterways are screaming for “help.” A catastrophic combination of red tide and blue-green algae blooms on the west coast, and blue-green algae blooms on the east coast are hurting Florida. These headline-making events are causing significant public health concerns, tarnishing Florida’s reputation for world-class beaches, and mucking up our clear blue waters. But how does this happen?
Red tide originates naturally in the Gulf of Mexico’s salty waters while blue-green algae occurs in freshwater bodies like Lake Okeechobee. These two outbreaks are independent of one another, but together wreak compounding havoc. Both deplete water of vital oxygen- suffocating fish, mammals, and plants. More research is needed to get a full picture of what’s going on, but what is clear is that both of these chaotic scenarios are exacerbated by a warming climate and excess nutrients in our waterways. The sources of nutrient pollution aren’t new: agricultural runoff, manure from cattle, septic tanks, treated sewage used for watering lawns, sewage sludge spread on fields, and local storm water runoff. All of this ends up entering waterways and exacerbates red tide and blue-green algae. When combined with the decades-old phosphorus in Lake Okeechobee during the hot summer months, excess nutrients result in the harmful blue-green algae blooms in the lake and estuaries on Florida’s east and west coasts.
How much worse do things have to get before our leaders get serious about this? We can already see the effects . Many of the more seasoned power brokers in D.C. will not be alive when the effects of climate change are at their worst. If now isn’t the time to have a serious and substantive debate on how to tackle climate change, when is the right time?

Carl Sagan asked NASA to turn the Voyager space craft towards Earth and take a snapshot of our world when it was heading towards the outer edge of our Solar System. This was the image it took:

Planet Earth viewed from the Voyager space craft from the far reaches of our solar system.

That is our world. It’s the only one we have. We rely on it for everything from growing food to breathing. It is our one, and only safe refuge in a universe that is not hospitable to human life.

Dr. Sagan talked about the above image in his book Pale Blue Dot — A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Here is a very famous quote from that book:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Carl Sagan understood the importance of protecting our planet in the 1990's… but our politicians and so called leaders still are not taking this as seriously as they should in the 21st century. This is not just our planet. This is our children's planet. It belongs to our descendants who will be here after we are gone to dust. If we do nothing… if we keep kicking this can down the road, we imperil their existence and the very existence of humanity.

Once humanity is gone, it no longer matters about your power or status. No one will be here to remember you. No one will care that you were an important CEO or congressman or resident. No one will remember the great things humanity has accomplished. Outside of our structures that survive, it will be as though we were never here.

Is this really the future you want?
“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” -- David Brower
The world stands at a critical moment right now. We have a responsibility to future generations to try to sustain our world. The fate of humanity is in our hands. Either we take this threat seriously and do what is necessary to try to mitigate what is coming or we do little to nothing as we allow humanity to go extinct. We can’t wait until later. We need to take serious action right now!


Amazon Rainforest Burning image from space: Wikimedia Commons
List of Worldwide Scientific Organizations that hold the position that Climate Change has been caused by human action: State of California Governors Office of Planning and Research
If you want to do a deep dive NASA has a website dedicated to that purpose.
Scientific Consensus: Earth’s Climate is Warming: NASA Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet
The DNC rejects call for Climate Change Debate: The Real News Network Published on Aug 22, 2019
“Pale Blue Dot” Video: CarSaganDotCom
David Brower Quote: “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

BIO:  The Independent Reformist says this about his writing: "Independent political perspective from a working class American. No B.S." He currently blogs on Medium and at his Wordpress site.

 From Rainforest Action Network:

The fires in the Amazon rainforest are devastating. The Amazon rainforest is called the lungs of the planet, because it accounts for 20% of the world’s oxygen. With the climate crisis worsening, we can’t afford to lose these ancient trees who filter out and store the world’s carbon.
These fires affect every single living creature on earth. Read that again, every single creature on earth is and will be impacted by the loss of these forests. We need your help to protect them.
Many of you have asked, how can we help? 
The fires aren’t a random occurrence. With new leadership, Brazil has declared the Amazon open for business. Massive companies and investment firms like BlackRock, have rushed to the Amazon to develop this formerly protected land. The fires are being used to clear villages, trees, and wildlife for illegal cattle ranching, soya, and other products. They are literally stealing land from Indigenous Peoples and destroying the Amazon rainforest to turn a profit.
There’s no time to lose, we must act NOW. Please, take action and help us raise awareness for the Amazon and all of the world’s remaining rainforests.
Ginger Cassady
Program Director
Rainforest Action Network

There are a record number of fires in the Amazon. We need Brazil to stop encouraging people to destroy the rainforest for profit.


Sign Now


The Amazon Rainforest is called the lungs of the earth. It's critical for biodiversity and fighting climate change. It has been burning for more than three weeks, but chances are you didn't hear about it until last week. In the time between when the fires surged out of control and when the media picked up the story, nearly 40,000 individual fires had started in the rainforest — many of them set intentionally.
There are a lot of reasons the Amazon is burning at a record rate. Burning cultivate nutrient-rich farm land is a long-held practice. For decades, farmers, ranchers and loggers have hacked into the rainforest to get access to timber and land, which they use for profit. But now, climate change and deforestation magnify the risks if and when fires get out of control.
Much of this was true last year and the years before What's different in 2019 is that Brazil's new right-wing government doesn't care. President Bolsonaro has dramatically scaled back on enforcement against illegal logging and mining in the Amazon. In fact, he's called for more of it. People have responded by setting records numbers of fires to clear the forest.
As of August, more than 1,300 square miles of forest have been lost in 2019 alone. Now that people around the world have realized just how catastrophic this could be, everyone from the right-wing Prime Minister of the UK to Colombian pop star Shakira are calling on the Brazilian government to act.
We agree. Perhaps most alarming that Brazil's dry season has just begun — meaning things could actually still get worse. We need to mobilize massive action now to get these fires under control, find people who've started these fires and, most importantly, stop the setting of new ones.
Thank you,
Emily V.
The Care2 Petitions Team


P.S. With dry season just beginning, we need Brazil's government to stop more human-caused fires in the Amazon (and put out the ones already raging out of control). Sign the petition.


  1. It's sickening, the level of denial in politicians bought and sold by Big Business at the expense of our planet. The G7 conference pledged a mere pittance to combat the devastation inflicted on the Amazon rain forest. Unless people wake up, there'll come a time when it's too late. There's no snooze alarm button on climate catastrophe.

    1. You do wonder why the corporatists are so set on destroying our planet... Do they have a death wish? If so, why do we--those who don't have one--allow them to continue to destroy our world? Let's hope the Amazon burning will wake a few of these greedy bastards up and keep them awake!


Please feel free to share your thoughts with us. Just one rule: Be polite. This means no profanity or cursing. No shaming or hate speech. No threats or silliness. This is a family friendly blog. Thank you.