The Amazon Rainforest has been described as the world’s lungs because they are a vital absorber of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Of critical concern is the fact that the number of forest fires in Brazil since January (more than 74,000) has increased by 83% compared with the same period last year.

World leaders like France’s president Macron and Amnesty International’s secretary-general Naidoo are calling on Brazil to take immediate action to halt the progress of these fires. However, Brazil’s president Bolsonaro have accused them of undermining his government and seeking to make personal political gains by capitalising on the forest fires. For instance, Bolsonaro has condemned Macron’s involvement as being colonialistic.

The Brazilian president has reportedly made it clear that he wants to open up the Amazon to the demands of mining, agricultural and logging companies to aid in his country’s economic development. There is also an ongoing investigation about a Brazilian newspaper advertisement calling farmers to burn parts of the forest to show the president that they are willing to work.

Read the full article on Sky: Amazon wildfires: Brazil and France clash over burning rainforest


In the field of international relations, when is intervention from other countries an imposition of values on the home country or is the Brazilian president’s claims of colonialism an attempt to defend his government’s inadequate response to the forest fires? In respecting the sovereignty of the country in question, it must be recognized that other countries also have an obligation to intervene when the global interests are at stake. This is the case here as the deforestation of the Amazon would mean less efficient removal of carbon dioxide from the world’s atmosphere.

At the same time, forest conservation efforts would be more effective if we considered the practical wisdom and experience of the regional leaders who are affected by deforestation. If the Amazonian issues are discussed on the world stage without the involvement of those countries bordering the Amazon, then this may be counterproductive as well.

While world leaders seek to find a balance between national sovereignty and global interests, the true victims are those who live in the rainforest and the surrounding areas and who continue to pay the price of the forest fires.

Questions for further personal evaluation: 

  1. Are there any benefits to opening up the rainforests to the demands of mining, agricultural or logging companies? Can this ever be balanced with the environmental interests of the world?
  2. What do you think accounts for the political indifference towards environmental issues in world leaders? 

Useful vocabulary: 

  1. ‘sensationalist’: presenting stories in a way which is intended to provoke public interest or excitement, at the expense of accuracy
  2. ‘rhetoric’: language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but often regarded as lacking sincerity or meaningful content