Under the rightwing presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilians are once again witnessing intimidation tactics against anyone who speaks out against his government. Bolsonaro and his administration have attacked the press, specific journalists, a Supreme Court justice, opposition leaders, the health and science institution FIOCRUZ, and many others. This disturbing trend has just targeted two indigenous leaders. However, this latest strategy failed.
Brazil’s Federal Policeagencysubpoenaed Sônia Guajajara, the executive coordinator for the Articulation Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) on April 26 to respond to charges of slander as well as the dissemination of fake news. These accusations are the result of her appearance in a 2020 eight-part web documentary series called Maracá. In it, Guajajara, along with dozens of other natives, activists, artists, and academics denounced numerous health protocol violations committed against indigenous communities by drawing links between Brazil’s 521 years of genocidal history to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Carved out of the rainforest, the Trans-AmazoniaHighway is a 2.500 mile-road that connects seven northern states in Brazil. The audaciousproject was started in 1972 during the country’s Military Dictatorship (1964-1985) with two objectives: development and security of the “unoccupied” region. In order to bring companies and large-scale farmers there, the government offered large portions of land, tax exemption incentives and attractive financing. The move culminated with the expulsion of thousands of small farmers and entire tribes of indigenous peoples, solidifying a long history of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
On April 22, Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro spoke at the U.S. Climate Summit affirming his nation’s commitment “to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030,” and he “anticipates Brazil’s goal of zero emissions to 2050.” He was one of 40 world leaders present. During his remarks, he also said Brazil is “on the forefront in combating climate change,” and that his administration is “complying with the measures to combat deforestation and preserve the Amazon.”
The city of Los Angeles is home to thousands of oil wells and refineries, many of them found near homes, schools, parks, places of worship and hospitals. They harken back to the 1890s when the city discovered some of the most productive oil fields in history. As its population grew, the borders between oil producing zones and residential neighborhoods disappeared. The wells release toxic emissions causing debilitating health problems especially in front-line communities living closest to them.
A grass-roots coalition called STAND-LA has been fighting for the rights of Angelinos to breathe clean air. Last week, following a city council hearing, the coalition held a rally outside City Hall in downtown LA. Dozens of allies came to support their demands – which include instituting a 2,500-foot health and safety buffer around oil wells, plus a phase-out plan of existing oil and gas operations in those neighborhoods, as well as a just transition toward renewable energy.
Rising Up senior producer Anna Buss attended the rally and produced this report as part of our Earth Day Special programming, and our ongoing series Rising Up In the Streets.
** This story was created as part of the 2018-2019 Climate Solutions Fellowship under the New Economy Reporting Project, sponsored by the New Economy Coalition and the Media Consortium.
Decades of consumerism, fueled by the concept of short-term convenience, has left our planet drowning in plastic waste. Much of it is used just once and then thrown away, polluting oceans and contaminating our bodies. At the center of this problem lies the effectiveness of eliminating plastic while its production remains high and there are fewer places that process it. As a result, a few corporations and communities are being forced to deal with waste in other ways rather than recycling — the main form of plastic disposal many people have relied on over the years.
“The public opinion about [recycling] is very naive,” says Rowland Geyer, a Professor of Industrial Ecology at University of California Santa Barbara, who specializes in green supply chain management. Geyer wants to make one thing clear: recycling by itself is a ‘pseudo solution’ to eliminating plastic waste. “[People] recycle because they believe in it, but it is not a real part of the solution,” he adds.
In fact, eliminating plastic becomes almost a surreal idea when considering the staggering amount of plastic discarded each year. In its June 2018 edition ‘Planet or Plastic’, National Geographic’s Laura Parker’s bombshell article uncovered that 44% of all plastic that has ever been manufactured globally has been made since 2000. Additionally, 448 million tons of plastic was produced in 2015 alone, with 40 percent of that — some 161 million tons — for single-use packaging that never gets recycled or incinerated. In fact, until 2018, less than a fifth of all plastics was ever recycled, and only 12% was incinerated globally. As a result, an estimated 8 million tons of plastic bottles A 2016 study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has projected that if considerable reduction in production is not implemented, oceans could have more plastic than fish by 2050.