How long do we have to wait for the changes to begin?

Tuesday, July 2, 2024
Info Source: 
Folh de S.Paulo | Original URL:

By João Pedro Stedile
In Folha de S. Paulo

Crimes and environmental tragedies are repeated in Brazil with increasing frequency. Droughts in the Amazon, floods in Maranhão and Recife, fires in the Pantanal, deforestation and lowering of the water table in the Cerrado, the water reserve of the three largest river basins in the country...

The tragedy in Rio Grande do Sul is just the tip of the iceberg of so many attacks that affect millions of people and forces society, and, above all, governments, at three levels, to reflect on the need for urgent changes.

It was a tragedy announced. The scientific community has long been warning that grain monoculture and pastures lead to an imbalance in the distribution of rainfall.

Changes to the Forest Code, defended and approved by the ruralist group in the 2000s, reduced the size of vegetation cover areas on the banks of streams and rivers and exempted the replacement of deforested areas. Without any supervision, it was a free-for-all.

The government of Rio Grande do Sul also changed hundreds of articles of the state environmental law. Everything to help agribusiness, which doesn't even leave wealth in the state, because it exports agricultural commodities without paying a cent of ICMS, thanks to the Kandir Law, of the FHC government.

Added to this shamelessness are the predatory actions of mining companies, in every corner, from sand removal to large iron mines, in addition to the crimes of gold miners.

Finally, the use of pesticides is perhaps the greatest attack on nature. Brazil is the country that uses the most pesticides, including products banned in Europe, which eliminate biodiversity, alter the balance of nature and contaminate the water table. But who cares if this is controlled by half a dozen transnational companies, which don't pay taxes but finance politicians?

The crimes are there, in the open. And those most affected are always the poor, who pay with their lives. They are residents of unsuitable locations, pushed by real estate speculation from cities to hillsides; they are the riverside people; they are family farmers.

What to do? We no longer need to cut down any trees to plant crops or raise livestock. Zero deforestation needs to be extended from the Amazon to other biomes, such as the Cerrado, the Atlantic Forest and the Pantanal. This policy must be combined with a major national reforestation plan in these biomes, in cities, on roadsides and on the banks of streams and rivers. State companies should create nurseries and distribute seedlings of native and fruit trees.

We need to put limits on the advancement of agribusiness, on the predatory model that only enriches transnational exporting companies and a handful of farmers.

Only family farming can “cool” the planet, protecting biodiversity and combating hunger.

To achieve this, we must encourage the polyculture of healthy foods, with a large agroecology program that distributes necessary inputs to family farmers, with a reindustrialization policy that provides adequate agricultural machinery and organic fertilizers.

Agrarian reform is a fundamental policy to guarantee access to land for farmers who do not have it — many expelled by the advance of agribusiness — and to relocate those affected by climate change. In cities, it is essential to guarantee decent housing in places with security and a future.

All of this costs a lot of money, but it is better to prevent and save lives and nature than to cry afterwards. Rio Grande do Sul will now need R$60 billion just to replace losses.

Are we going to continue chasing repairs or are we going to prepare for a better life for everyone?