good morning John so I’ve seen a bunch of tweets for the last few days I’m pretty angry which you know makes it exactly like every other few days in the last few years but in this specific case it was tweets like these the Amazon rainforest is seeing a record number of wildfires large swaths of the Amazon rainforest are burning fires are raging the Amazon region is burning now mostly this comes down to like a problem I have with reality which is that there’s just too much of it and thus it is very hard to be aware of all of it and so we end up with things that are incomplete making their way into our brains but if there’s anything we should be aware of it’s this cuz you know future of the planet at stake and stuff like that so why do I not like these tweets well because here in America where I live usually if there’s a wildfire it was an accident and sometimes fires are okay because fires are a normal part of our ecosystems in America and sometimes they were done on purpose by like criminals who the government wants to arrest so when you read these headlines as an American you think oh no a fire happened I hope someone’s trying to put it out but in the Amazon fire is not a natural part of the ecosystem and because of that many trees in the rain forest can’t survive what we would in the u.s. consider a trivial burn these fires are not natural they are intentional this isn’t intentional like it’s arson it’s intentional like this land is more economically productive when we graze cattle on it than when it’s the rain forest so the headline here shouldn’t be large swaths of the Amazon are burning it should be large swaths of the Amazon are being burned now sometimes in the dry season which we’re in right now there are natural wildfires in the Amazon and in fact the number of natural wildfires appears to be increasing because here’s a thing about the Amazon and other rainforests with plenty of water and plenty of sunlight the ecosystem is really good at using everything that comes its way that means that most of the water that falls is immediately released back into the atmosphere by this tremendous amount of vegetation photosynthesis gets done when water evaporates out of plants a single tree can evaporate more than 50 thousand gallons of water per year and once that water is back in the atmosphere it falls again rainforests don’t just thrive on rain they make rain so when there’s less rainforest there’s less rain and more fires that’s not the real reason there’s so many more fires this year it’s not hotter than normal it’s not drier than normal the thing that changed in Brazil is who the President did the moment he was elected I air Belson ro rolled back environmental protections in Brazil earlier this month he fired the head of Brazil’s national space and Research Institute after he defended data showing that deforestation had grown 40 percent in the last year Bolson ro says that figure is wrong and the deforestation is down that’s a lie when asked why there are so many fires this year bull Sonora said that maybe environmental organizations are setting them to make him look bad that is also a lie but this isn’t just like pure malice and like love of destruction there’s an ideology here there’s the economic part of it which is just that there’s a lot of value in the rainforest and no one’s making any money off of it if it’s just being rainforests and then there’s sort of an ideological thing of like the civilizing interest of man we must bring our superior way of life to this wild jungle racist manifest destiny kind of stuff so to make the money you encourage legal logging and farming you reduce inspections reduce regulations and you ignore illegal land grabs where forest is slashed and burned and then seeded with grass and sold the ranchers there’s also another piece of the ideology here that I think is really interesting reality is that most of the good that the Amazon does is for everyone it produces oxygen for everyone it traps co2 for everyone it preserves biodiversity for the whole world but Brazil isn’t getting paid for any of that stuff far-right perspectives ultra nationalist perspectives don’t really allow for stuff that helps everyone it goes against this ideology that the nation is for the nation only and here’s where this gets super wild the fact that the rest of the world cares so much about the Amazon rainforest isn’t perceived as a reason to protect it it’s perceived by these people as a threat it’s like a claim on their sovereignty it’s it’s thought of as internationalisation after all like legitimately what right do i as an American I have to tell Brazil what to do with its rainforests in America we have DeForest did everything we can so our interest in protecting it actually becomes a reason for some people to want to destroy if you live in a world where everything is a zero-sum game why should anyone else benefit from our property and then there’s the reality that the Amazon is not as we sometimes imagine it empty there are many indigenous people other people who live and work in the forest and who rely on the forest for their livelihoods but those people are often not seen as real Brazilians by these nationalists nationalism is an inherently exclusionary ideology and that’s why fascism nationalism and racism so often walk together here’s the thing of course if the if the Amazon rainforest was a hundred percent pasture land and soybeans that would not just be a disaster for the whole world it would be even more of a disaster for Brazil itself see how hot it is in northern Africa that’s actually farther away from the equator than Brazil is Brazil receives more solar energy than Saudi Arabia but because of the rain forest it is much more cool this is the effect of that evapotranspiration the rain forest makes rain if there is less of it it is clear that it would be hotter and drier and these man-made fires or even the natural ones will spread on their own leading to a feedback loop that could end the Amazon and 70% of the GDP of South America is made in places where Amazon rainforest rain falls even here in America again internationalization for you much of the rain that falls here is a vapo transpired in the Amazon rainforest and an important note when I talk about rain falling really what I’m talking about is agriculture I’m talking about food we eat that rain there’s a lot of talk about tipping points and I think it’s important to note that there are always many tipping points along the path to something being completely destroyed but yes there is a time when less and less water falls in the rain forests and fires happen more and more often and there is a time where we lose most if not all of the Amazon and it’s why we have science to warn us about stuff like this so that we can take action and it’s why we have human rights to protect people whose land is their land whose life is their light but it is all too easy to deny stuff like this when you have more of an allegiance to your ideology than you do to the truth and that is something that I like to try and say to myself constant it’s why we need to call a lie a lie no matter who says it it’s why we need to say that the rainforest is not burning it is being burned John I’ll see you on Tuesday obviously this is a big and complicated thing and this is a short video so I’ve linked to a bunch of other resources the article in the intercept from a few months ago that basically predicted all of this was my favorite resource for this but there are lots of other smart people talking about it and it seems like people are having a better idea of what exactly is going on and why it’s happening so and I guess thanks for caring about this because because that’s a big deal and it is the only way we have slowed this in the past