Brazil turns to drones to protect Amazon

April 21, 2014

Joe Leahy – The Financial Times, 4/21/2014

Brazilian municipalities are turning to drones as they prepare to implement a tough new law designed to save the Amazon from total deforestation.

Municipal authorities in the Amazon region, the biggest of which covers double the size of Scotland, are looking to use drones to map properties and monitor whether farmers and others are maintaining the minimum of forest cover required under the new forest code.

“With the acquisition of a drone, we would have a better result, we would have a panoramic view of how this process of recuperation is progressing,” said Gercilene Meira, a specialist with the state environmental secretariat in the municipality of Alta Floresta, in Mato Grosso state. “We have done some tests using balloons but it was not sufficient.”

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Farmers seeking heat relief signal Brazil climate peril

April 17, 2014

Raymond Colitt – Bloomberg, 4/17/2014

Brazil may see a mass migration of crops and farm workers from huge swaths of currently tillable lands to more temperate zones as global warming takes hold, according to leading climate experts in the country.

Longtime Brazilian climate researcher Hilton Silveira Pinto points to the drought that’s cutting grain and coffee output this year as an indicator that rising global temperatures may already be impacting the country’s crops.

“This is a taste of what is to come in the future,” said Pinto, a professor at theCenter for Meteorological and Climate Research Applied to Agriculture at the University of Campinas.

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Drought in Brazil drives the price of coffee beans to a record high

April 10, 2014

Rupert Neate – The Guardian, 4/10/2014

Coffee bean prices have hit their highest level in more than two years amid fears that droughts in Brazil could lead to a global shortage of coffee. The price of arabica beans – the most popular variety – has risen by 20% this week and hit $2.07 (£1.23) per lb on Thursday, the highest since February 2012. So far this year, the price of arabica beans, originally indigenous to Ethiopia and favoured by Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffè Nero, has risen by 70%.

The price was driven higher on Thursday by further dry weather forecasts forBrazil – the world’s biggest producer, which has already experienced its worst droughts in decades. Analyst expect global demand to be around 146m bags this year, outstripping supply by more than 7m bags, and warned that prices could hit $3 per lb.

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Brazil’s largest city may ration water this year, utility says

April 9, 2014

Paulo Whitaker – Reuters, 4/9/2014

Sao Paulo may have to ration water this year if reservoir levels are not replenished, Brazil’s largest water and sewage utility said, an increasing possibility as the southeast region heads into its dry season.

Worries of a water shortage in the metropolis of some 20 million that will host the soccer World Cup opening match on June 12 have increased amid dry weather this week, and the city’s main source of water, the Cantareira reservoir, was at just 12.7 percent of its capacity as of Wednesday.

Economists worry that water rationing or shortages could take a toll on Brazil’s fragileeconomy, which is expected to grow just 2 percent this year, and a shortage in Brazil’sbusiness hub would add to the challenges facing President Dilma Rousseff, who is expected to be re-elected in October.

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They razed paradise and put up a soybean lot

April 8, 2014

Lucy Jordan – Global Post, 4/7/2014

 It might not look like much, but this little green bean is both villain and hero in Brazil’s Cinderella story.

Soybeans helped turn this South American nation from a country of peasants into the world’s seventh-largest economy. They’re also blamed for the destruction of vast swathes of rain forest, causing habitat loss and bloody land conflicts.

Brazil predicted this year it was going to out-bean world soy leader the United States. A nasty drought may have put the kibosh on that, but this country’s output is still expected to reach some 94 million tons, coming up close behind the US’s 99 million tons.

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IMF says U.S. drives growth as Russia, Brazil weaken: economy

April 8, 2014

Sandrine Rastello – Bloomberg, 4/8/2014

Stronger U.S. growth this year and next will help the world economy withstand weaker recoveries in emerging markets including Brazil and Russia, the International Monetary Fund said.

The U.S. is providing a “major impulse” to global growth that’s still lumbering amid weakness in Japan and parts of Europe, the IMF said in a report today. While the U.K. and Germany are adding to momentum, developing nations face new risks and Russia’s takeover of Crimea last month injects geopolitical tension that’s “casting a pall” on the region, the fund said.

The IMF urged emerging markets to prepare for flows of capital back to advanced economies, and advised the European Central Bank that more monetary easing is needed now to keep deflation at bay. The U.S. will benefit from a longer period of record-low interest rates orchestrated by the Federal Reserve, strong private demand and the end of a fiscal drag that slowed growth last year, it said.

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Chevron Brazil faces criminal oil-spill charges, reinstated on appeal

April 4, 2014

Jeb Blount – Reuters, 4/4/2014

Brazilian judges ordered a criminal prosecution ofChevron Corp. and 11 employees over an oil spill in Nov. 2011, in a process reinstated more than a year after being thrown out following a settlement with the government.

An appeals panel made the 2-to-1 decision in October, but kept it quiet as judges reviewed Chevron’s challenges to their ruling, Brazil’s public prosecutor’s office, which oppposed the dismissal, said on Wednesday.

Chevron confirmed the ruling late on Thursday.

The case is likely to revive concern over the speed and security of Brazilian legal rulings.

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Chico Vive: The Legacy of Chico Mendes and the Global Grassroots Environmental Movement

March 31, 2014

The Chico Vive conference is bringing together grassroots activists, NGO’s, students, engaged scholars, applied scientists, policymakers, journalists and others to discuss the development of the global grassroots environmental movement in the 25 years since environmental martyr Chico Mendes’ death. Participants will plan strategies for coordinated international actions, networks, coalitions and initiatives to advance sustainability, defend the environment from depredation and climate change, and protect the rights of its traditional inhabitants.

When: April 4-6 2014

Where: American University School of International Service

Keynote: MARINA SILVA

More information here. 


Interview with Ambassador Thomas Shannon: Large countries with ambitions need to assert themselves

March 31, 2014

Claudia Trevisan – Estado de S. Paulo, 3/30/2014

Former U.S. Ambassador to Brazil criticized the Brazilian government’s lack of a stance on the case of the annexation of Crimea.

Venezuela is divided internally and is also a source of polarization in the Americas, evaluated Thomas Shannon, counselor to the U.S. Department of State, who was ambassador to Brazil for four years. “The unwillingness of the countries in the hemisphere to deal with what is happening in Venezuela directly and in a public manner is a mistake,” he said, in an interview with the Estado de S. Paulo. Shannon explained that Russia’s annexation of Crimea fundamentally changed the relationship between Washington and Moscow, and criticized Brazil for its lack of a stance on the case. “Large countries with large ambitions need to assert themselves, for the benefit of all of us,” he stated. Shannon said the U.S. would like to “do more” in the relationship with Brazil, recently shaken by spying revelations from former NSA agent Edward Snowden and the cancellation of President Dilma Rousseff’s state visit to Washington in October.

Read full interview in Portuguese here.


Brazil, and the World, ought to invest in ecological farming

March 27, 2014

Kumi Naidoo – The Huffington Post, 3/27/2014

On Tuesday I joined a panel at the Global Agribusiness Forum in São Paolo (Brazil) to talk about the impacts of climate change on agriculture and food production.

You might be surprised that Greenpeace was at an agribusiness conference. The room was full of agri-business people, who are not the crowd we normally engage with; they are the crowd we normally challenge with our campaigns. However, I appreciated having the opportunity to be a dissenting voice and to talk about how ecological farming is a more resilient and sustainable model to produce diverse and healthy food in the face of erratic climate patterns.

The model of farming we choose can either make us more vulnerable, or help us both to be more resilient to our changing climate and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We cannot afford to endlessly discuss the effects of global climate change on agriculture and do nothing about it. In fact, the impacts of climate change — like massive droughts, typhoons, and storms — are already appearing and are consistent with climate change scenario predictions. The time for debate is over. Now is the time to tackle the problem head-on with real solutions.

Read more…


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