An editorial in China’s state-run China Daily on Wednesday dismissed the G7’s offer of $20 million in firefighting aid to Brazil as “chump change” given the scale of the Amazon crisis and inadvertently revealed one of the reasons China is interested in the outcome: Brazil is a major source of soybeans, a crop central to the trade war between the United States and China.
China Daily threw everything but the kitchen sink at the G7 and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, amusingly beginning its editorial with a brisk refutation of global warming hysteria by admitting the fires were deliberately set by humans, bouncing to the easily debunked canard that the Amazon rainforest manufactures much of the world’s oxygen supply, and then wrapping up by quoting climate change activists. As China Daily reports:
Thomas Lovejoy, a co-author of the tipping point study and who has worked for more than 50 years in the Brazilian rainforest, said this is one of its darkest moments for the Amazon. “There have always been some ups and downs, but the overall trajectory has been towards improvement. Now, Brazil is headed in the other direction. Under normal circumstances, the outside world would endeavor to help, but this Brazilian government is not interested in help.”
However, the $20 million the outside world, more precisely the G7, has pledged to douse the Amazon fires has been dismissed as “chump change” by environmentalists, as the amount is mainly aimed at sending firefighting aircraft to tackle the conflagrations.
More worryingly, the world is divided when it comes to fighting climate change, as was evident in the empty chair of the US leader at the G7 meeting on climate change.
It seems those hell-bent on boosting economic growth at any cost are holding the future of the world’s forests, rather the future of the planet, to ransom. But without forests there won’t be any development.
The scattershot nature of the editorial is another reminder that the Chinese Communist Party and its media organs closely follow American media, looking for any clubs they can use to beat the United States and its allies. China swings those clubs with abandon when it finds them, leading to confused passages such as this:
Although wildfires in the Amazon are an annual occurrence, especially in the dry season which begins in July and continues up to September, this year they increased 84 percent compared with last year.
Many climate skeptics and those who never get tired of denying that global warming is man-made have claimed the Amazon fires this year are a natural phenomenon, but environmentalists assert humans are the root cause of the fires.
Scientists say the ongoing destruction will have dire consequences for Brazil and the world. The Guardian quoted Carlos Nobre, a senior researcher at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Sao Paulo, as saying the increase in deforestation was taking the rainforest closer to a tipping point beyond which swaths of the usually humid forest would become a dry savannah, with dire consequences for the climate, wildlife and forest dwellers.
China Daily regurgitated some of the cherry-picked factoids popular with sensationalist American media outlets. For example, the wildfires in 2019 are much worse than they were in 2018, but roughly comparable to 2017 and by no means the worst ever. There is no accelerating trend – 2019’s fires are only slightly worse than the 20-year average, and by far the worst stretch of Amazon fires in recent history ran from 2002 through 2007, when people more ideologically aligned with China were running Brazil. Somehow the Earth managed not to suffocate while its “lungs” were chain-smoking 15 years ago.
Deforestation was also much worse in the past. It only looks like an elevated trend today because deforestation absolutely cratered 15 years ago. 2019’s deforestation rate is scarcely a quarter of what it was in 2004, when socialists were in charge and nobody was writing about tipping points.
Satellite images reveal this year’s fires have largely been set on land that was already cleared for agriculture, to prepare for the next planting season, so hysteria about “rainforests” burning down is massively overblown.
“In Mato Grosso, a soy frontier, which has seen more fires than anywhere else in Brazil this year, burning has been detected inside indigenous people’s lands and nature reserves,” China Daily wrote – an important passage because China’s desperate need to import soybeans for its livestock is a crucial factor in the trade war.
The Huffington Post on Tuesday quoted “experts” who accused Brazilian farmers of practicing slash-and-burn agriculture in a mad scramble to produce enough soybeans to satisfy Chinese demand. Of course, the Huffington Post found a way to blame this on U.S. President Donald Trump, because he made China angry enough to stop buying soybeans “grown under far more stringent environmental standards” from American farmers.
Reuters noted in July that Brazil was a larger soybean supplier to China than the United States before the trade war began, but Brazilian soybeans were not truly meeting China’s needs because they have far lower protein content than American soybeans. On the other hand, Chinese demand is also decreasing because a massive African Swine Fever outbreak is killing off their hogs.
A January 2018 report from Reuters noted that Brazil “all but stopped the growth of soy farming in newly deforested parts of the Amazon rainforest during the 2016-2017 crop year.” Greenpeace approvingly pronounced the deforestation caused by Brazil’s soybean industry “peanuts” and praised it for finding ways to grow soy without deforestation.
This set a very low recent baseline for soybean-related deforestation so that any increase in 2018 and 2019 would look like a very large percentage. In any event, even if Brazil reversed all of its positive steps in a mad dash to grow soy for China, only a tiny percentage of the Amazon region is suitable for soybean farming.
The unlimited free pass given to CFC-spewing, pollution-happy China by climate change activists remains one of the marvels of the modern age. Beijing understands exactly why they enjoy those indulgences from environmentalist religion: because the true objective is attacking capitalism and Western notions of economic liberty. Brazil’s agricultural practices may be unfortunate, but they have been so for a long time.
The intense focus on wildfires this year is driven by political considerations: opposition to Bolsonaro, opposition to Trump as the 2020 election draws near, climate alarmism, lifestyle policing – efforts to make Westerners think they are destroying the rainforest by eating beef have been in progress for decades – and the agenda of the Chinese Communist Party, which is frantically searching for more leverage to win the trade war.