Brazil’s annual burning seems to have made more headlines this year as ‘prophets of doom’ try to spin it as something wildly unusual or especially frightening, from their climate change soap boxes. Brazil’s rainforests, they cry, are essential for the planet to reach it’s CO2 target. France’s Macron notably stepped up to criticise President Bolsanaro claiming that ‘our house is burning’ forgetting, presumably, that Western Europe deforested centuries ago and now enjoys masses of productive farmland where once grew lush green woodland, in a burst of superior virtue signalling.
It seems a bit much, when France relies so much on farming and agriculture, for Macron to claim some kind of sovereignty over forests in other countries who wish to develop their capacity for agriculture and development. Presumably he wants Brazil to take a larger per-capita stake in global responsibility for CO2 absorption and oxygen creation than his fellows in France.
I’d have more respect for his words if he moved to convert greater swathes of French farmland back to forest (you can imagine how that would go down with French farmers), instead he’s rallied his mates from the G7 to declare an “international crisis” involving leaders from the US, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, the UK (Johnson has promised £10m) and Canada – yes you are correct – no Brazil (did they even ask for help?) Though supportive of the G7 move to ‘help’ Amazonian countries Boris Johnson has accused Macron of using the fires as an excuse to block final approval of an EU free trade deal with Brazil that’s been 20 years in the making (a whole other story about how poor the EU is at setting up such deals).
It’s one more move that suggests climate alarmists prefer to manipulate others (through taxes, offsetting and threatening trade) rather than take necessary action themselves (as they swan around in private jets to talk about climate change). Such motives are not painted any less bleak when one realises that the elite’s answer to all ‘climate emergencies’ from global cooling to global warming has been for the individual to give up more freedoms and for the state to take more power and control (funny that).
Understanding what’s going on is not helped by the selective reporting of data either. The BBC reports a nice chart showing that 2019 has double the number of fires compared to 2013 suggesting some frightening trend. But it’s a ‘hockey stick’ snapshot ‘so called 90-odd-percent of scientists’ would be proud of. Zoom out and it shows that the number of fires is roughly on par with what it was in 2005 at this time of the year in the Amazonas region of Brazil. However, when you view the entire Amazon region covering all South American countries the number of fires is half what it was in 2005.
So what is the real solution? I’m deeply uncomfortable with relatively wealthy nations manipulating others into behaving in certain ways that give themselves an advantage. The whole entitlement attitude stinks – like green taxes which mean only the rich can afford to produce CO2, or offsetting which allows the rich to appease their green-conscience by paying off poorer people to produce less CO2 rather than develop as nations.
There has to be a more morally consistent approach than pressuring other people into doing what’s good for you, holding them back, and making CO2 production the exclusive right of the rich. Maybe this new study, which finds that tree planting is the cheapest and most effective approach will draw some attention – but I suggest we should be planting our own trees, producing our own solution, walking the walk as well as talking the talk.
A recent article in the Guardian trumpeted the findings of a new study published in Science that found massive tree planting would be — by far — the cheapest and most effective approach to mitigating climate change. Ironically, the new thinking shows the pitfalls of political approaches to combating so-called “negative externalities.”