Flames are ravaging the Amazon Basin
. Though climate change has catalyzed many devastating blazes in recent years, these recent fires, experts say, were intentionally set by farmers
who, responding to calls from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to develop the region, wanted to clear their land so it could be used for agriculture. As Bolsonaro put it, "the Amazon is open for business.
But it's on fire, and as it burns, the Amazon drastically contributes to the climate crisis ---- both from the carbon released by the forest fires and from the loss of trees' ability to absorb carbon in the future. A healthy Amazon is critical to the survival of not only the local and about 400 indigenous groups
that call it home but to our entire planet.
The corporations and financial institutions that back the businesses Bolsonaro beckons drive this deforestation and destruction, and will generate tremendous short-term profits at the expense of the Amazon.
It's a heartbreaking global emergency that requires immediate action.
Now that the world is finally paying attention to the Amazon Basin, it's important to also understand that governments and companies around the world are emboldening the Bolsonaro regime's toxic policies when they enter into trade agreements with his government or invest in agribusiness companies operating in the Amazon.
Companies like BlackRock, the world's largest investment firm, which announced plans to expand its operations
in Brazil after Bolsonaro was elected, is a key financier of the agribusiness giants implicated in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, according to the non-profit organization Amazon Watch.
More money invested in these businesses means more forest clearing for industrial agriculture. Moves like this signal strong support for Bolsonaro, who has advocated for opening new areas
of the Amazon rainforest to agriculture and industry, and whose rhetoric can fuel hate against indigenous people
and others. Many of the oil, mining, and agribusiness operations in which BlackRock allegedly invests contribute to the violation of indigenous rights and furthers the expansion of development into the Amazon, according to Amazon Watch
Responding to Amazon Watch's accusations that it is contributing to the destruction of the rainforest, Blackrock told the Financial Times
that "it makes investments on behalf of our clients, whose investment decisions we have a fiduciary duty to carry out. We do not own the assets our clients invest in. Our clients choose to invest in a wide range of assets and we endeavor to offer them a wide range of investment options, including sustainable investments."
The indigenous people of the Amazon have been calling attention to the consequences of failing to protect the rainforest for years
. They have also been resisting the destruction, sometimes paying with their lives.