Murder in the Amazon and What It Means for the Climate Emergency, the Food You Eat and Your Family

Trevor Neilson
Jul 31 · 4 min read
Deforestation in Brazil

This week dozens of miners dressed in military fatigues and carrying assault weapons swarmed an indigenous village in the heart of the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil and murdered one of the most important tribal leaders in the region.

The invasion of the village came with the encouragement of Brazil’s ultra-right wing President who has encouraged miners and loggers to move into indigenous territories in defiance of Brazil’s constitution which designated protected areas for indigenous people in 1996 as part of the process established by Brazil’s 1988 Constitution.

The Amazon is home to half of the world’s remaining rainforests, and one third of this land is inhabited by the tribes who are now under attack.

Three football fields’ worth of rainforest every single minute are being lost primarily due to logging, mining, and farming — most of which is illegal under Brazilian law.

In the month of July alone the Amazon has lost 519 square miles of rainforest.

These are the lungs of our planet and if it continues it presents a clear and present danger to every single living thing.

Scientists agree that if 20% more of the Amazon is destroyed it will trigger a well known phenomenon called dieback in which the forrest dies and burns. Once this process begins it is impossible for the forrest to survive.

This process would also cause up to 140 billion tons of carbon currently stored in trees, grass and swampland to be released into the atmosphere, causing a surge in global temperatures.

Think a far off murder of a tribal leader by a renegade group of miners doesn’t really impact your life here in the U.S.? Think again.

Extreme weather events — including flooding and drought which threaten the American food supply are being driven by the rise in global temperature.

Spring floods in Iowa this year have caused more than $2 billion in damage to Iowa towns and farms. In the last year Iowa has experienced its wettest year since official records began in the 1800's, and climate models shows that Iowa’s number of days for summer temperatures in the 90s will double in the next few decades. Any increase in temperature due to Amazonian deforestation will only compound this.

Iowa is the number one producer of soybeans, corn, pork and eggs in the United States. Just this one state is an absolutely vital source of our food supply.

If the murder of indigenous people is allowed by the Brazilian government and mining and logging interests are allowed to destroy their land, global temperatures will continue to increase and our food supply will be threatened.

So what do we do about it?

First, you can decide to wake up to the reality of the climate emergency. This is a good place to start, and here is a speech I gave about my own process of waking up following the Malibu fires. It’s easier to stay asleep — to ignore the problem — but when you look at the problem clearly it allows you to take action

Second, you should and your family should join Extinction Rebellion, the grass roots movement that is spreading rapidly around the world including in Brazil. This group is demanding that governments act to address the climate emergency, and has many ways for you to get involved. Everything you need to get involved is on their website, including all the tools you need to start our own chapter. You don’t need anyone’s permission — you can do it today. Follow them on instagram here.

Third, you can donate to help fund Extinction Rebellion and other groups. You can also make a donation to the Climate Emergency Fund which has been established to channel money to groups that are having a major impact.

Fourth, if you need funding to start your own Extinction Rebellion chapter you can also apply through the Climate Emergency Fund.

Finally, you can support political candidates who have a clear plan and the experience to address the climate emergency. It is the biggest problem we face, and we must demand that our leaders address it, beginning with the presidential debates.

Yes, the murder of a tribal leader in the Amazon rainforest impacts you and your family right here in the United States. You can choose to ignore it, or you can choose that you want to do something about it.

I know the choice I am going to make.

Trevor Neilson

Written by

Co-Founder and CEO, i(x) investments; Co-founder and Chairman, Climate Emergency Fund; Co-Founder, Global Philanthropy Group

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