Background on the Boycott: The Case for the Amazon

Deforestation in the Amazon is accelerating rapidly since 2015. The terrible fires of 2019 are the result of increased land clearing and unsustainable practices by big agribusiness. The loss of the worlds largest rainforest is immanent, and that loss may speed climate change that puts global civilization at risk.

It will take a lot of effort and and substantial investment to turn this trend back around, but we know it can be done: deforestation in the Amazon was significantly reduced between 2005-2012.

Detailed analyses of publicly available satellite photos show that Brazil has reduced deforestation in the Amazon enough over the past five years to lower heat-trapping emissions more than any other country on Earth

Union of Concerned Scientists, 2011

This success story continued only another year before deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil began to rise again. However, it was never sustainable, a Vox article and a paper in PNAS indicate, because it required agribusiness to find ways of being more productive on existing land rather than encroaching on the Amazon and that was going at some point to fall short of the production needed to meet global demand for Brazil’s beef, forcing economic calculations that the payments Norway has made to encourage protection of the Amazon are far too small to counter.

Deforestation in Brazil began to rise in 2013, then faster in 2015 and in late November of 2018 the Guardian reported:

Brazil has released its worst annual deforestation figures in a decade amid fears that the situation might worsen when the avowedly anti-environmentalist president-elect Jair Bolsonaro takes power.
Between August 2017 and July 2018, 7,900sq kms were deforested, according to preliminary figures from the environment ministry based on satellite monitoring – a 13.7% rise on the previous year and the biggest area of forest cleared since 2008. The area is equivalent to 987,000 football pitches.

The Guardian, Nov 24, 2018

In the first 11 months of Bolsonaro’s government deforestation rose another 15% on top of these escalations.

There are reports that Bolsonaro’s election is one of the surges of Far Right politicians and parties funded  by the fossil fuel industry. Bolsonaro is a frequent climate denier and insists that efforts to protect the Amazon rainforest are really wealthy countries trying to prevent Brazil from threatening their dominance. This is rendered more plausible, and deforestation made more profitable, by America’s trade war with China, which has substantially increased demand for Brazil’s beef.

The problem is bigger than Bolsanaro. The problem is simply that Brazil has no substitute for the revenue it gains by encroaching on the Amazon. The government and the interests it represent are driven by short-term calculations.

Short-term profit motives fail to account for the looming decline in rainfall in Brazil that will accompany the collapse of the Amazon. Recent reports indicate the Amazon could lose the ability to create the precipitation rainforests require as early as 2021, and even that could prove optimistic.

NOAA Satellites – Below the wispy cirrus clouds over the southern edge of the Amazon Rainforest, GOESEast spotted plumes of smoke possibly from agricultural fires burning in Bolivia and Brazil on Aug. 4, 2019. From Wikimedia Commons.

We need a solution that ends deforestation NOW by creating an overwhelming net benefit for Brazil from preserving the Amazon rainforest.

The challenge we face in Brazil is not unique. Destruction of tropical rainforest, including the Amazon, is on the rise in other countries in the region as well. This is occurring despite new findings that CO2 emissions from the destruction of tropical rainforest is six times greater than previously estimated. This is even more alarming when combined with humanity’s toppling of the most dreaded of all climate tipping points, the thaw of Arctic permafrost, 70 years ahead of schedule. The loss of the Amazon to deforestation is the 2nd most dreaded tipping point, and now reports indicate we are less than two years away from toppling THAT tipping point, causing a massive spike in CO2 emissions.

The problem at bottom is that, even as we teeter on the edge of extinction, we have yet to recognize the value of functional ecosystems. Biomes like the Amazon rainforest play so great a role in removing CO2 and host so much precious biodiversity that their loss makes the looming threat of our extinction almost insurmountable. Ironically, the loss of the Amazon is certain to do great harm to agriculture in Brazil, but the time horizons governing this industry and its anti-environmental ethos work to obscure this critical fact.

John D. Liu, advocate for large scale ecosystem restoration projects and creator of the film Green Gold, explains in that film the basic logical flaw in our global economic institutions which have led humanity to edge of extinction:

The source of wealth is the functional ecosystems. The products and services that we derive from them are derivatives. It’s impossible for the derivatives to be of more value than the source. And yet in our economy now as it stands, the products and services have monetary value, but the source, the functional ecosystems, are zero.

This cannot be true, its false. So we’ve created global economic institutions based on a flaw in logic. If we carry that flaw in logic from generation to generation we compound the mistake.

There’s nothing wrong with money. The problem is what money is based on. If money is based on functional ecosystems, then the future will be beautiful.  If money continues to be based on production and consumption of goods and services, we’ll turn everything into a desert.

What is the future for all children, and our children’s children, and generations to come? Here in the foothills of the Andes, slash and burn agriculture is being practiced today. The people who are doing this think they are getting some short-term economic gain, but what’s the loss to biodiversity, biomass, soil fertility and hydrological function?

John D. Liu, Green Gold

Davi Kopenawa, Yanomami leader and shaman surrounded by children, Demini, Brazil. © Fiona Watson/Survival

Today the only people who consistently champion and defend surviving ecosystems are indigenous. We do not have as yet a popular consensus in any wealthy, Western country on the urgent need to put at least a third of the Earth under protection by 2030, buying intact wilderness and securing it in public trusts or paying the countries where it resides more to preserve their wilderness more than they can hope to gain by destroying it.

This is the case we make in our campaign to boycott Amazon the company until Jeff Bezos uses the small fraction of his $110 billion net worth it would take to make payments to Brazil which DWARF the revenue the country can hope to gain from deforestation of the Amazon.

Learn more about Amazon4Amazon planning at Earth’s Three Green Hearts event

Healing Earth’s Three Green Hearts: a conversation on equatorial rainforests

Tuesday, August 25th 2:30pm PDT / 21:30 UTC 
(90 min, Presenters: Paul & Michelle, founders of Amazon4Amazon.org)

A dialogue about Novasutras’ projects for Earth’s Three Green Hearts (especially especially updates on the  Amazon4Amazon & ClimateJustice4Africa projects), possible projects for Sundaland, and how people can best support these efforts to protect and restore equatorial rainforests, and the people and other beings who call them home. Learn more…

REGISTER FREE to Join Us for Healing Earth’s Three Green Hearts! We will also send a follow-up email with the video from the event to all who register, so please register even if you can’t make the conversation at this time.

Meditate for the Amazon

UPDATE: Sign up now for a link to the recording of the meditation.

Novasutras offered a worldwide, synchronous guided meditation focusing on healing and wellness for the Amazon rainforest and all who live there.

We chose to meditate together on #BuyNothingDay, in support of the #Amazon4Amazon campaign.

Sign up free to be part of the Novasutras Movement, and we’ll send you the link for the recording of this guided meditation. Experience the peaceful power in shared contemplation of the beauty and wonder of the Amazon rainforest and wishes for increasing well-being of this sacred place.

Please join us for this guided meditation for the Amazon rainforest offered by Novasutras!


Why Buy Nothing? ~ How to Buy Nothing

Novasutras is helping with the #Amazon4Amazon campaign. This effort urges people to boycott the world’s largest online retailer, to pressure the company and its CEO to invest some of their vast fortunes into protecting and preserving the Amazon rainforest. As part of this boycott, or for many other reasons, you may be trying to buy less stuff.

If you’re concerned about the environment, one of the kindest things you can do for the Earth is to reduce the amount of new stuff that you buy. Stop and think before making any purchase... 
Will my friends and family join me for a Buy Nothing ChristmasBuying less stuff is not only much kinder to the Earth, it can save you a lot of money, to spend on doing the things that you really love…

How to boycott Amazon (and more reasons why you should)

Buying Nothing is good for the Earth, and good for community

Buy Nothing Holidays would be an excellent expression of agaya and ubuntu (reverence, joy, generosity and loving-kindness for all beings), regardless of whether you are participating in the boycott (though you really should consider participating in the boycott).

While energy and transportation are major factors in our ecological footprint, the food and material goods we purchase often represent significant carbon emissions, toxic byproducts, and wasteful packaging, not to mention abusive labor practices and encouraging a detached consumerist mindset. What kind of holiday is it when we are asked to ignore the real sources of joy: the splendor of healthy living systems and the healing connections of interdependent community?

How to Buy Nothing for the Holidays

How can we resist all the messages—subliminal and screaming “buy, buy, buy, buy”—that come at us during the month of December? How can we reclaim the holiday season from the corporate conglomerate?

How to Have a Non-Commercial Holiday, Frida Berrigan

Giving up buying gifts and decorations is not at all the same as giving up the holidays, and in fact can add a new layer of joy to your celebrations, bringing you deeper into resonance with ubuntu and agaya. There are many alternative ways to express and share your reverence, joy, generosity, gratitude, and loving-kindness.

Draw Something
Sew Something
Cook Something
Sing Something
Build Something
Make Something

Adbusters, 2005

Craft or cooking projects with friends and family can be a joyful way to celebrate together, producing things to be further gifted away as another opportunity for joy. Perhaps you can consciously choose to borrow something from a neighbor, then invite them over to help out or to enjoy what you’ve created.

Coming together to perform becomes a gift to a wider community, transforming strangers into friends in ever-wider circles of ubuntu.

Even if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have time or means to create gifts or perform, you can choose non-material gifting as part of your celebration. Can you give the gift of your time, offering a skill, a service, or just a promise of loving listening and presence to be redeemed in the future? If you have more money than time, perhaps a donation to a mutually-inspiring charity in the name of another?

What are your favorite ways to buy nothing and celebrate the holidays?

Please share your ideas in the comments.

This post first appeared on Novasutras.org, Nov 17, 2019. It has been slightly modified for reposting here.

How to Boycott Amazon (and more reasons why you should)

Convincing Amazon.com and Jeff Bezos to help pay for protecting the Amazon rainforest is just one of many reasons to boycott the company. We’re not the first or only group promoting a boycott.

There are more than a few reasons why people should consider halting their Amazon use, beyond its sheer immensity. For instance, the company has a notably poor record when it comes to its warehouse conditions, and these warehouses are becoming more prevalent as Jeff Bezos expands his domain. The founder himself is one of the richest people in the world, and as his company rakes in profits, it has been squeezing smaller entities out of business. The Amazon playbook is to extract as much labor out of its workforce for as little money as possible through technology and automation. Meanwhile, small businesses continue to flounder as a result of its domination.

Fast Company, December 2018

Here are just a few reasons:
– Amazon exploits its workers and is anti-union. Just ask John Oliver.
– Amazon paid $0 in federal taxes last year even though it’s a multibillion dollar company where the CEO is the richest man who has ever lived.
– CEO Jeff Bezos is not only an incredible douchebag, he’s also monumentally greedy.
– When Seattle passed a measure to fight homelessness by putting a very small tax on the city’s biggest companies, like Starbucks and Amazon, they fought against it and won. Remember, they already paid no federal taxes.
– While Amazon now pays a $15 minimum wage, they dropped workers’ stock plans and bonuses when they raised wages.
– Amazon is selling facial recognition technology to police and ICE

broke-ass stewart, August 2019

But Amazon.com is a huge business, and many people rely on them. If you’re among those who shop regularly or are fans of shows on AmazonPrime, giving them up might be difficult. Here are some tips that might make the transition easier:

Buy Less Stuff: If you’re concerned about the environment, one of the kindest things you can do for the Earth is to reduce the amount of new stuff that you buy. Stop and think before making any purchase. Do I really NEED this, or do I just think I want it right now? Can I re-use something I already own? Can I try to find it on Freecycle? Can I borrow it from a neighbor or the local library (you may be able to get ebooks, audiobooks, DVDs and other material for free – ask a helpful librarian)? Will my friends and family join me for a Buy Nothing Christmas? Buying less stuff is not only much kinder to the Earth, it can save you a lot of money, to spend on doing the things that you really love to do (or spending more to shop local, buy organic, and/or get a few higher quality items that will last longer)!

Shop Local: Pressure from Amazon.com has forced many local shops out of business, but some are still around, and they need your business! When you shop local, the money is more likely to stay in your area and improve your hometown’s economic base.

Buy Used from Somewhere Else: Embrace the joy and funkiness that you can find in gently-pre-used items. Can I try to find it at a second-hand store, a used book store, a yard sale, on craigslist or eBay? How about refurbished phones and tablets on BackMarket?

Embrace Alternatives: Threshold started a Cancel Prime campaign, and claims to have “the most lovingly curated selection of Amazon and Prime alternatives anywhere.”

Other Ways to Help the Amazon Rainforest

There are several organizations already directly involved in protecting and preserving the rainforests and peoples of Amazonia. Unfortunately, they do not have the financial resources and reach of Amazon.com or Jeff Bezos. While the signatures and small contributions most people could make to them are important, imagine what they would be able to achieve with billions of dollars from big donors.

  • Amazon Conservation Team – works to fight climate change, protect the Amazon and empower indigenous peoples.
  • Amazon Frontlines – supports the struggles of indigenous peoples to defend their rights to land, life and cultural survival.
  • Amazon Watch – protects the rainforest, defends indigenous rights and works to address climate change.
  • Cultural Survival – supports Indigenous Peoples’ struggle in defense of their identities, lands, and human rights.
  • Greenpeace International – petitions and direct action in defense of the Amazon and other endangered places and species.
  • Pachamama Alliance – partners with indigenous peoples in the Amazon to stand for their rights and the rights of Nature.
  • Rainforest Action Network – protects the Amazonian rainforest and rainforests around the world.
  • Rainforest Foundation – supports indigenous communities of Central and South America in securing land rights and protecting their lands.
  • Rainforest Trust – buys and protects land in rainforests around the world.
  • Sacred Headwaters – protects the ancestral territory of more than 20 indigenous nationalities and peoples in the headwaters of the Amazon River.
  • Survival International – works with indigenous tribes to preserve their rights and protect their lands.
  • TreeSisters – funds tropical reforestation efforts, with indigenous species, local knowledge, and promoting women’s participation.
  • The World Wide Fund for Nature – works to protect the countless species in the Amazon and around the world.

Some of these link descriptions come from http://cfgreateratlanta.org/2019/08/23/amazon-rainforest/, others include or summarize descriptions from the linked sources.

Do you know about any other organizations doing good work protecting the Amazon rainforest and its people? Please let us know in the comments below.