Written by Jeferson Soma – PSTU (Brasil)
Monday, 18 August 2014 19:46
The irrational use of natural resources has led to the destruction of the environment in gigantic proportions.
Facing immediate profits, capitalist exploitation is driven by a logic of short-term, which is incompatible with the time needed for the recovery of natural resources. The result has been the contamination of soil, air and water, the devastation of tropical forests, the rising of global temperature and the depletion of resources necessary for human survival.
Brazil and environment
The submission of Brazil to the capitalist economy is behind the environmental destruction. The increasing demand for raw materials led to the expansion of open mining and exploration of the monoculture of soybean, sugarcane, eucalyptus etc. Agribusiness progressed throughout the Cerrado  and now expands to the Amazonic region. This business occupation of the land turned Brazil into the largest consumer of pesticides in the world. Here, it’s even permitted the use of pesticides that have been banned in other countries. The result is the contamination of food, water and soil by harmful chemicals to human health.
The expansion of mining has caused catastrophic effects. Besides the Act Kandir, which exempts from tax the export-oriented mining, the sector is benefited by the construction of hydroelectric power in the Amazon, as the Hydroelectric Belo Monte. The goal is to produce more energy to supply the expansion of projects in bauxite mining, iron and manganese. The next objective is to build five hydroelectric power stations on the Tapajos river (Amazonic region), causing irreversible damage to the communities that depend on the river to survive.
Neoliberal solution ‘to save’ the planet
The World Bank and governments are proposing solutions that lead to the commodification of nature. Most NGOs follow them by encouraging a “conscious consumption” of products with certification seals. So, they blame the individual and not the capitalist system for the environmental destruction.
When she was Minister of Environment, Marina Silva tried to encourage the “green market”. She created the Public Forest Management Act that allows the privatization of forests, at the mercy of the “sustainable” action of loggings, pharmaceutical industries and bio-piracy. She also signed the law that approves the use of transgenics.
In Brazil, the commodification of nature occurs through carbon credit projects, called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). The credits are traded on stock exchanges and between companies, which acquire permission to pollute by their purchase. That is, under capitalism “sustainability” has become another form of financial speculation.
The most serious problem, according to the tapper leader Osmarino Amancio, is that these projects “impose a series of bans on forest dwellers, prohibiting them from growing their cultures, cutting trees to build their homes, and offering a miserable subsidy in exchange.” Osmarino refers to the payment of the “Bolsa Verde” (Green Subsidy), of US$ 45 monthly, which ends up preventing traditional practices carried out by people who never posed any threat to the environment.
In defense of our natural resources
The greatest threat to the environment, in particular in the Amazon, are the large government projects on behalf of multinational corporations and agribusiness. It’s necessary to halt the construction of more hydropowers in the region, revoke the Act Kandir and prevent biopiracy, by annulling the patent law.
However, we need to end the domination of multinationals on our natural resources. For this, we propose the creation of a state monopoly on the economic exploration of forests and mineral resources.
No to the privatization of nature! Defend the rainforest people!
Forest protection depends primarily on who needs it to survive, as is the case of the original people and traditional communities. So, it’s necessary to defend the rainforest people, who are the target of big farmers and agribusiness. We are against the PEC 215, which allows the demarcation and allocation of indigenous lands and quilombos by the corrupt Congress, instead of the Executive administration. No to the PEC 215! Approval of Indigenous and quilombola territories now!
It’s necessary, too, to stop the advance of the commodification of nature and repeal laws that privatize forests, minerals and water.
 The Cerrado is a vast tropical savanna eco-region of Brazil, particularly in the states of Goiás and Minas Gerais. It is the second largest of Brazil’s major habitat types, after the Amazonian rainforest, and accounts for a full 21 percent of the country’s land area (extending marginally into Paraguay and Bolivia).