The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme, or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
Main Topic: A Coming Crucial Brazilian Election
Dear Diary. Elections across the planet have become very important since the dawn of the 21st century for our climate. Just ask Al Gore and his Climate Reality members about losing to George Bush in 2000, for example. Today let’s turn our attention to Brazil, that most of us know is being led by mostly anti-environmental Jiar Bolsonaro, whose policies are detrimentally affecting the “lungs of the Earth” expansive rain forest of that country.
Here is a new New York Times article on the coming Brazilian election that is just as crucial as the recent U.S. 2020 election that ousted fossil fuel loving Trump. Also, at the end of the article there are many other linked environmental items from the Times for your reading consumption:
Brazil’s climate politics are shifting. That matters for the whole planet.
The Amazon is emerging as a central issue in this year’s presidential campaign. Leaders have taken note.
April 15, 2022, 11:20 a.m. ET
A message from your Climate Forward host: I’d like you to meet Manuela. She’s my partner on Climate Forward, and you’ll hear from her regularly when I’m out on reporting trips and unavailable to write the newsletter. Today, she takes you inside the climate politics of her home country, Brazil. — Somini Sengupta
In Brazil, beef isn’t just food. It’s political. It’s a symbol of dignity and equality, and the price of beef is a kind of barometer of well-being in the country.
“Beef is not a privilege for people with money,” former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said in an interview last year.
But now, with elections just months away, da Silva, who is better known as Lula, seems to be taking a more environmentally conscious position. He’s suddenly talking about vegetable barbecues and organic salads.
“I broadened my perspective,” he said on Twitter in February. He was not just concerned about whether the average Brazilian could afford a barbecue, Lula said, “but also vegetarian people, who don’t eat meat, being able to eat a good organic salad, us encouraging healthier agriculture in our country.”
At 76, and with more than five decades of politics under his belt, Lula is adapting. And his willingness to do so makes it clear that, for the first time, climate and the environment will be at the center of the debates before Brazilians vote for president and the national legislature on Oct. 2.
Lula, who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, is one of the best-known politicians in the developing world. Under his administration, millions rose out of poverty, helped by China’s growing hunger for Brazilian commodities like soybeans and steel.
Beef was, in some ways, a thread that ran though his presidency. It became a more frequent part of daily meals and one of the country’s major exports. Lula’s administration poured millions from Brazil’s development bank into meatpacking companies, and those operations, in turn, eventually grew to become major drivers of deforestation in the Amazon.
This time around, though, Lula is talking about supporting that “healthier agriculture” he mentioned on Twitter.
Izabella Teixeira, who served as one of Lula’s environment ministers, told me the former president always treated climate issues seriously. But she said she saw something new in the way climate and environment issues seem to be gaining prominence in his speeches and debates.
“He is looking at it with a modern mind set,” she said. “It is one thing to correct the past, to undo mistakes. It is another thing to affirm new paths.”
President Biden similarly made climate a pillar of his campaign, as did Gabriel Boric, who became president of Chile in March. Just a few weeks ago, Colombia’s leftist presidential candidate Gustavo Petro chose an environmental activist as his running mate. The first round of that election is May 29.
The choice Brazilians make matters for global climate targets. Brazil is, by some measures, the world’s sixth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. More important, though, is why: It is currently slashing its part of the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, at a pace not seen in over a decade.
Lula’s environmental record is mixed. Back in the day, his administration pushed for new policies that sharply curbed Amazon deforestation, even as agribusiness, including beef, grew. But he seemed to disregard the need for an energy transition, instead refusing to support legislation that would have required Brazil to phase out fossil fuels.
Under the current president, Jair Bolsonaro, climate action has been all but abandoned. The recent explosion in deforestation rates, which have angered the world, will unquestionably be one of the main legacies of his presidency.
Brazil’s current policies have intensified its climate challenge. And it’s not just because of beef. Soy, the country’s top commodity, is increasing pressure on the Cerrado, the country’s vast tropical savanna. There’s also Brazil’s heavy dependence on oil and steel exports.
Bolsonaro’s rise to power is widely seen as a response to a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal that upended Brazilian politics years ago. Prosecutors said Lula was implicated at the top of the scandal. He spent 580 days in prison in connection with a conviction that was ultimately overturned.
As Lula has clawed his way back into public life, he has refused to acknowledge mistakes in the corruption scandal. When it comes to climate policy, though, he has signaled a willingness to reform his legacy.
Earlier this week, speaking to thousands of Indigenous people gathered in a demonstration in Brasília, the capital, he promised to appoint an Indigenous cabinet minister. It would be a first for Brazil, a country where Indigenous people are at the forefront of the environmental movement.
Past governments of his Workers’ Party, Lula said, “didn’t do all they should have done” for Indigenous people.
So far, Lula has the lead over Bolsonaro, who is seeking re-election, in all the main opinion polls, though the race has been tightening. Hunger, unemployment, inflation and the Covid pandemic will also be major issues during the campaign.
But the two candidates’ radically different views on the environment could be crucial. According to a poll in September, 80 percent of voters believe protecting the Amazon rainforest should be a priority for presidential candidates.
A majority also said a specific plan to defend the Amazon would increase their willingness to vote for a candidate.
Essential news from The Times
Phasing out gas cars: Officials in California made public plans to prohibit the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035.
White House departure: People close to Gina McCarthy, President Biden’s top climate adviser, say she plans to quit because she is unhappy with the slow pace of progress.
Even cactuses aren’t safe: More than half of species could face greater extinction risk by midcentury, a new study found, as rising heat and dryness test the plants’ limits.
Antarctic puzzle solved: Researchers say the collapse of the two ice shelves was most likely triggered by vast plumes of warm air from the Pacific.
‘Silent victim’ of war: Research on past conflicts suggests that, in addition to the human toll, the Russian invasion of Ukraine could have a profound environmental impact.
From the Opinion section
Ditch the gas-powered leaf blower: Get an electric one or just use a rake, Jessica Stolzberg writes.
Other stuff we’re following
- The latest issue of National Geographic is all about saving forests.
- A new analysis showed that many big utilities in America are actively pushing back against climate policies, according to The Washington Post.
- Banks around the world are abandoning coal projects, except in China, according to Bloomberg.
- A new podcast from the Food & Environment Reporting Network talks to farmers about what they are doing to adapt to climate change.
- Parts of the Sacramento Valley in California have received their earliest-ever “red flag” warning for fire danger, Capital Public Radio reported.
- One TikToker found the transportation of the future.
Before you go: For these birds, location matters
Adélie penguins are having a rough time on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, where warming linked to climate change has occurred faster than almost anywhere else on the planet. One researcher called the situation a “train wreck” for the birds. On the eastern side of the peninsula, however, it’s a very different story. Adélie populations there seem to be doing just fine. You can find out why, and see some impressive photos from a recent survey expedition in our article.
Thanks for reading. We’ll be back on Tuesday.
Claire O’Neill and Douglas Alteen contributed to Climate Forward.
Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We read every message and reply to many!
Here are some “ET’s” recorded over the last couple of days:
Here is some more March 2022 climatology:
Here is more climate and weather news from Friday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)
Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid war on Ukraine:
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Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”