“Much of the Amazon basin is burning”

I don’t know about you but where I am, the weather is positively balmy. So warm in fact that this year’s crop of McIntosh apples is two weeks ahead of schedule (and growers are worried it may turn to mush if the nights don’t start turning cold soon) and local grape growers (for making wine, an unheard of occupation in these parts, when I was growing up) are reporting a bumper harvest. People bask in the warm sunshine, but you can hear it in conversations: the “new” weather (it’s been trending this way, the last few years) is kind of unsettling, like some strange, still-faint background noise that disturbs at some subliminal level. You step outside your door in the morning and the thought crosses your mind: July in October, what the fuck? Oh the trees are turning, sure (lots of maples around here) but the colours seem… faded. Just like last year. And the year before that. Geez, the last time I really saw the mountains blazing was in the nineties. Early nineties even. Not enough cold nights, they say… Some mornings it’s positively eerie.
  But it isn’t happening only here. That’s the really creepy part. And when you bother to look, what’s going on elsewhere is downright hair-raising.


South America chokes as Amazon burns
By Daniel Howden and Jules Steven in La Paz
05 October 2007

Vast areas of Brazil and Paraguay and much of Bolivia are choking under thick layers of smoke as fires rage out of control in the Amazon rainforest, forcing the cancellation of flights.

Satellite images yesterday showed huge clouds of smoke and much of the Amazon basin burning as fires, originally set by ranchers to clear land, have raged into the forest itself.

Did you just choke on your morning coffee? Yeah, that’s what happened to me too. Quick, what’s the date on this? October 5th 2007? Damn. That was yesterday  . How come I haven’t heard of this? How come it wasn’t on the news? How come no Breaking News diaries on DKos about it? How come the goddamned Democratic candidates all campaigning for President don’t mention it ??????

Yeah, it’s nice and warm where I am. Some even like the change and are hoping for more. But for others, elsewhere on the planet, not so much:

Burning smoke has blocked out the sun and local communities have begun to complain of respiratory disorders.

Roberto Smeraldi, head of Friends of the Earth Brazil, said the situation was out of control: “We have a strong concentration of fires, corresponding to more than 10,000 points of fire across a large area of about two million sq km in the southern Brazilian Amazon and Bolivia.


“(This year’s fires) are mainly, I would say more than 90 per cent, the result of expanding cattle ranching.” The first rains have arrived but they are weaker than usual in most areas and have been useless against the fires.

In the past three years Brazil’s National Development Bank and the World Bank have poured funds into the southern Amazon“, fuelling the expansion of the cattle industry. (..) “It is taxpayers’ money fuelling these fires,”” said Mr Smeraldi.


“These fires are the suicide note of mankind,”” said Hylton Murray Philipson, from the London-based charity Rainforest Concern. ” While politicians talk about defining moments, destruction will continue until we begin to attribute real value to the standing forest.

Think about that. Resist the incredulous, knee-jerk reaction. No. Take a deep breath and let it sink in. ‘Cause it’s not just the Amazon. It’s happening now. All over. Everywhere.

The planet is shifting gears on us. And we, collectively, aren’t paying attention. Those of us in the driver’s seat are asleep at the wheel, and the rest are all squabbling over their toys in the back seat. While the vessel we’re riding in is careening wildly. It is indestructible, by the way. It can hit a wall, drive over a cliff, sink under water, even burn, and emerge unscathed. A massive orb of rock and iron, that will continue on its stately path, rotating across the field of stars for all eternity (or what we humans concieve as such). We are the ones committing slow-motion suicide. And the worst of it is that those who aspire to lead us know what’s going down. Hell yes, they know all that, and a lot more besides. Oh, and some of them talk a good game. But I don’t trust them. Because they are DOING NOTHING other than talking. And all for short-term political gain. Because their polls and focus-groups and  millionnaire consultants all tell them that the people don’t really care that much.

Because these are not leaders. These are merely your bargain-basement, business-as-usual, snake-oil salesmen politicians, only out to secure the next election. For themselves. And I’m not pointing fingers here. It’s just as painfully deplorable up here in Canada, where our Neanderthal Right Wing government has just hamstrung our three pathetic, feeble, spineless “opposition” Parties (sound familar, dear neighours?) by threatening them with (gasp!) an election!

That’s why I am so desperate for you next door to get a true leader to run for President, i.e., for better or for worse, as even we recalcitrant Canucks know all too well, de-facto King of the World. That leader was at the U.N. last week, urging the politicians to wake the hell up. And This is what it looked like. And we need him as much as you do. Because up here too, it would instantly change the paradygm, by making climate change the top of mind issue in the next elections (which Harper won’t wait past the end of this year to hold, while his “opponents” are on the ropes, ’cause he wants him some Majority Government, so he can hog-tie the rest of us and sabotage international talks on climate and keep us in Afghanistan forever, and pour even more taxpayers’ money into the filthy Tar Sands of Alberta).

So please, please, you progressives here on this blog, please help your fellow Americans to wake up to what’s happening world-wide. Before it is too late. Create the conditions for change to happen. DEMAND THAT YOUR CANDIDATE RUN ON CLIMATE . Uh, okay… Good luck with that. Seriously. Get the most qualified, knowledgeable, experienced, inspiring, hell, the most goddamned obvious person out there to run for President. The rest of us, beyond your borders, we looks toward you, we catches your eye. Please, all of you. It’s now or never.

Peace on Earth to all peoples.

(crossposted at Dailykos)


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  1. thanks to every god damned contractor that thinks it’s better to burn their waste than to try and do things efficiently.

  2. the last few days.  It is deeply unsettling to see such rapid change in the weather.  It’s even more disturbing to see our “leaders” remain so willfully ignorant and/or criminally negligent in dealing with these changes. 

    I agree that Al Gore should run for this and for so many other reasons. 

  3. GBCW.

  4. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    • Tigana on October 7, 2007 at 05:33

    Great, grim diary.

    • pico on October 7, 2007 at 06:01

    has been going on for a long time there.  I found studies online as far back as the 90s measuring the effects that these burnings had on the local atmosphere, and already they discuss millions of miles of smoke.  The fires are not only widespread (which is bad if you live in the area and have to breath it), but they also occasionally get out of control, which seems to have happened in this case. Here’s a 2002 article discussing the extent of the problem, as well.

  5. among those who take any kind of interest in these things. Much of the rest of the world wants Al Gore to run.

    • Tigana on October 8, 2007 at 03:47

    Too bad Amazon.com did not adopt its namesake. Mr. Bezos is busy planning to get off the planet:

  6. means that, because your country’s surplus is being trucked to the First World courtesy of bankers and the IMF, you must clear forest because you have no other idea of how to make a living…

    Not even Al Gore is ready to tell the American public what has to be done

  7. of The Assault on Reason, and left a comment at the bottom 🙂

  8. but I’ll keep trying. In the meantime, this is what I wrote:

      Cassiodorus. Excellent diary. You sound just as passionate as my son, who just graduated with a B.A. in political science. 🙂

    The question that should be before us is one of what will replace capitalism.  If patriotic Americanism such as Gore’s (and in this regard see especially Gore’s statement: We have reached a point where we hardly recognize our country when we look in the mirror. on p. 165) is going to discuss the future in real-live detail, it could bear to speculate on what sort of patriotic American post-capitalism will be possible.  Hopefully, Gore has it within himself to think about such a thing.

    We’ll see, but speaking for myself, I expect Gore to do just that once he gets into the White House. But not before. It would be political suicide.

  9. I agree with you 100% (haven’t much time right now).  This country does not even belong to the Kyoto agreement, as Bush has refused to have the U.S. become a part of it.

    Gore is the only one who would take this country into action, primarily, with respect to global warming (and a host of other issues).

    Here is some action on drafting Gore and a draft Gore website therein.

    DC Draft Gore Prepared to put Al Gore on Primary Ballot

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