The storm is coming
The storm is coming
Leo Sakamoto is very unhappy about the start of the climate era – and he worries about how things will be for the poorest people.
In December 2021, storms killed at least 26 Brazilians in Southern Bahia state and nearly 100,000 people lost their homes or had to move. This is the kind of extreme weather that environmental activists and scientists are talking about when they speak of climate change. Lack of water affected other regions of my big, big country. There were big sandstorms in towns in the state of São Paulo. The dry winds took away the soil left bare since they cleared vegetation for agriculture.
Year after year, the government says the rains in Brazil are simply ‘above average’. But the graphs of rainfall from tens of years ago are no longer reliable. It rains more in some regions, it rains less in others.
There were extreme rains and drought without global warming. But the difference now is that, with climate change, they are more often - from once every ten years to every year. It affects everyone. But the people in the poorest and most vulnerable places suffer more.
We could stop some of these deaths – if the authorities stop seeing climate change as an unlikely idea and start making changes in Brazil for what is happening now.
The government needs to build good, affordable housing and have early warnings for storms. But all we see is the government and its supporters in Congress bringing in laws to make life easier for business, not vulnerable people.
Ricardo Salles was the Environment Minister. He was in the job until June 2021. In a meeting on 22 April 2020, he suggested to President Jair Bolsonaro that while the media was reporting Covid-19 deaths, the government could take less seriously the rules and regulations there to protect nature.
What many have been calling ‘hell’ here is just the beginning of Brazil’s new normal. And now there is worse to come very soon - after governments did not do enough to reduce carbon emissions. As Greta Thunberg said at the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow, what the governments said was just ‘blah blah blah’ and they took no action.
In fact, Brazil was one of the stars of COP26. But there is a big difference between what they say and what they do every day to destroy our ecosystems.
They are seriously damaging the Amazon rainforest, Cerrado grasslands, Pantanal wetlands, and the Atlantic forests by taking away law enforcement and starting projects that make indigenous populations vulnerable, result in the theft of public lands, and cause environmental destruction.
In the coming years, we will see environmental refugees. Farms will turn into desert and increase famine and then conflict over water and farmland. I fear that many people will die in Brazil and across the world as the planet becomes a more difficult place to live in. Every year, we see a new list of animals at risk of extinction in Brazil as a result of human action. But humans will survive – at least the richest. They will buy their protection, for a time. And what will happen to the poorest? Will they be left to drown, believing it’s God’s will, like the people in Southern Bahia in December 2021?
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(This article is in easier English so it is possible that we changed the words, the text structure, and the quotes.)