In total, the Amazon causes 20 billion tonnes of water to evaporate every day, which contributes to the formation of rain clouds that release the water back onto the rainforest. And it is precisely this that is being lost when the forests are cut down. If deforestation continues at its current rate, the Amazon could cease to be a tropical forest in as little as 15 years and become a savanna, a grassland. It will be at a point of no return.
Brazil is the sixth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, which is largely due to deforestation and changes in land use. Whenever there is a fire or an area is cleared, the carbon sequestered by the forest is released into the atmosphere. Cattle ranching is a major source of Brazilian emissions because cattle constantly release methane into the air, which is 20 times more polluting than carbon dioxide.
But not all of the forest is cleared for pasture. A substantial part is deforested to cultivate soybeans to feed livestock. This is a loop of devastation. The soy is mostly transgenic and requires the use of pesticides, which in turn contaminate our food, our rivers, and our streams.
We cannot stand still and watch. In the past 20 years, 18% of the Amazon has been deforested. If we reach 40%, the forest will be unable to regenerate.
I crossed the Atlantic
We, the peoples of the forest, know that we are fundamental to the defense of the Amazon and the balance of the planet’s ecosystem.
That is why, as an activist and member of the youth delegation of the Brazilian environmental organization Engajamundo (Engage World), I participated in COP25, the UN Climate Change Conference, in Madrid, Spain, in December 2019.
Aware that it is important to carry the voice of Indigenous peoples to the world, I crossed the Atlantic. We, especially young Indigenous people, are all responsible for the preservation of 80% of the world’s standing forests.
But what I felt in Madrid was that I was there just to listen, not to talk. I found it difficult to follow the sessions because of the language barrier and the specialized language of the technical discussions, which prevented me from understanding everything.
I felt nervous the few times that I had to speak. I saw no real openness to a true dialogue that would include solutions drawn from our Indigenous roots, from our way of being and living. The frustration was enormous when I realized, during the two weeks I was in Madrid, that the real solutions will not come from governments or from the documents they sign internationally.
Instead, real solutions must be built from the ground up, and the global civil society is strengthened by mobilizing. I was impressed by the Global Climate March, which brought more than 500,000 people onto the streets of Madrid to demand climate justice.