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Jessica Pachuca

The paper discussing the influence China has on the Brazilian Amazon was interesting in that it gave insight into different priorities. The author of the paper had a clear stance against deforestation. However, individuals trying to economically profit in Brazil have other priorities. Like the other chapters we've read suggested, we need economic incentives or people will act in their own self-interest. It is its own set of challenges to act upon environmental issues within the United States. But, how does that differ internationally? Clearly, environmental issues don't just affect the country that's exerting it, but they can also affect the rest of the world. If protection against deforestation was a priority in our country, would it be our responsibility to provide economic incentives among other countries? Is that politically feasible? How can we manage to prioritize environmental preservation globally, when there are a variety of views, ideologies, and cultures?

Carter Dummett

After reading this article i went on to google earth/maps and initially wanted to see how big Matto Grasso really is. For starters its massive and second of all i noticed when you zoom in you can see all these long brown patches almost reaching into dark green areas. When yo zoom in you see these massive cleared areas and fields that are expanding into what looks like dense tropical forest. Most of te state is covered in these brown patches of deforested area and its an astounding thing to see the seer size of it all from the sky. More closely related to the reading I was quite surprised at the section that talked about there being an increase in deforestation just after elections. Officials who are elected almost routinely seem to reduce regulation. there seems to be some sort of lack of information about the greater impact on the world but I completely understand why. From the outside looking in it isn't fair to judge people for doing what is in their best interest. Often times from te US we look down on "developing" countries for implementing many of the same practices we did just a few decades ago.

Blake Cote

It amazes me how interconnected our world is even though it is so vast. This paper talks about a negative type of interconnectedness in that China has a large influence on Brazil in terms of deforestation. It is both fascinating and devastating to me how China’s economy is a major driver in Amazonia as a result of China’s high demand for soy and cattle. China is Brazil’s largest trading partner and China has helped with the increase in the Brazilian economy. It is interesting to look at this relationship like the two sides of the coin that we talk about often in class. On one side Brazil is gaining a major benefit in that they are being lifted out of the economic crisis by having China as their main source of export surplus in terms of agricultural commodities. This may seem like a miracle to some people. On the other side of the coin there is the huge cost which is the deforestation that is coming as a result of clear cutting for the growth of the soy and the grazing of the cattle, in addition to access roads and other necessities for human intervention. It is difficult to simply say that the economic status of a country is more important or conversely that the state of the environment is more important in a country when in reality these two must both work together in order for the country or region in general.


Reading the article, I understand both ends of the spectrum regarding what China is doing to Brazil in terms of deforestation. On the surface, it looks like China and Brazil have a mutually beneficial relationship. China needs resources from Brazil, and in return, Brazil's economy directly increases due to this trading partnership. A ton of people are now benefiting from this in both countries, ranging from the workers in factories in Brazil to the millions of people in China benefiting from the agricultural resources gained from the Amazon. Speaking to Blakes's point, it is hard to figure out where to draw the line between economic prosperity and environmental prosperity. In the past 12 years since this article was written, I am curious to see if that range between economic and ecological prosperity has increased or decreased. What is the optimal level of Chinese intervention in the Amazon? I am curious if either government knows the answer to this question. It is clear that there are some positives to Chinese intervention in these areas, but the environmental tradeoff needs to be at a level that does not negatively affect the Amazon and the rest of the world. China has fewer environmental restrictions, so I feel like it is on the rest of the world to help make these decisions as a result of its global impact.

Izzy Koziol

This article about China’s effect on the Brazilian Amazon reminds me of the significant impacts that the world’s strongest powers can have on ecosystems globally. China can extend its desire for economic gains across the world to the Amazon, where their maximization of profits results in harmful effects on the environment, including deforestation. China has notably few environmental restrictions compared to other world powers and continues to finance the construction and operation projects like “a railroad between Cuiaba´ (Mato Grosso) and Santare´m (Para´),” which cuts right through Amazonia. This massive project, which can result in the destruction of much of the Amazonian ecosystem, shows how dangerous it is for rich, world powers to have little care for harmful environmental effects. This issue makes me question how more environmentally conscious countries’ governments can influence China to adopt more environmental restrictions, which would be globally beneficial?


This article was very interesting in that it confirmed the positive correlation between soybean plantations and increases and exports and deforestation rates. However, I chose to focus on another part of the article in this discussion response. From what I understand, it is very hypocritical that hydroelectric dams, which will have a detrimental social and environmental impact on both the region in which it is built and in areas beyond that, will still be praised under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. Though the article does not focus on this, I think this example really shows the tradeoff between choosing on which SDGs to invest in, specifically in the realms of developing cleaner energy sources or preserving the environment/rainforest. It was also interesting to see pushback against China from the Brazilian government in their attempt to limit the amount of Brazilian land China can legally own. However, this pushback seemed futile since the article mentioned that influential deputies are fighting to relax existing restrictions, making it seem like Brazil might be plagued by some sort of corruption allowing for these propositions to influence future policy.

Claire Jenkins

This article made me think about how China, one of the world’s largest economies, can have so much power over developing nations like Brazil. The relationship that the two countries have with each other is mutually beneficial in some ways, however it is much more detrimental to Brazil in terms of environmental impacts. China is able to continually exploit the natural resources of Brazil because Brazil relies on China as its largest trading partner to fund its economy through the purchase of natural resources. First, it is extremely saddening to see that the money that Brazil is receiving from trading with China is influencing the politics of the country through weakening environmental protection in this extremely biodiverse area. Something that really stuck with me was the statement that the authors made about the Santare´m-Cuiaba´ railway. They said that this railway, which cuts through Mato Grosso and Para, has long been in Brazilian development plans but has not launched as a result of high costs. However, since China is a world superpower, they could easily finance the railway and cause huge environmental destruction. The authors point out that Brazil has “the largest stock of remaining tropical forest, and the pressure of this [timber] demand is bound to focus on Brazil once available stocks elsewhere are exhausted.” The soybeans exports are of primary focus right now, but it is troubling to read that countries might start using Brazil for a wider array of commodities than they are now as well. This makes me wonder if strong world powers like China are going to continually keep doing this to developing nations and if we ever really are going to make any progress. After reading this article, I made me think that we could get to the point where Brazil is almost completely deforested and lacking the natural resources that were once most abundant in the country.

Kate Hannon

The report “Amazonian forest loss and the long reach of China’s influence” notes that deforestation increases in the periods immediately preceding elections, as a result of political pressure to allow more deforestation and expectations by those responsible for deforestation that enforcement of these regulations will soon be relaxed. The article also discusses the increased Chinese interference in Brazil’s development, both through the purchasing of Brazilian beef and soybeans as well as through investment in the country’s infostructure. China has also begun to increasingly invest in land purchases in Brazil. As China’s involvement in the Brazilian economy grows, I wonder whether the phenomenon of deforestation rates rising in the periods preceding elections will grow more pronounced as a result of their increased political and economic power in the region? China is a major global power, and corruption has been an issue in Brazil’s government for much of its history; it seems clear that their influence could lead to the reduction in policies preventing deforestation. Already, the Brazilian government is working to expand the amount of land that can be purchased by foreigners in order to appease Chinese demands for more land. Even if all of Brazil’s policies protecting the Amazon remained in place, which is unlikely under Bolsonaro, just the appearance of China’s increased influence could lead farmers and investors to feel more comfortable contributing to deforestation illegally in the Amazon.

Camryn Bostick

When I hear about deforesting in a certain country or area, I tend to assume that it is being deforested by those native to the area to strengthen their own economy and use their own resources. This is why I found this article so interesting, because it shows that not only are citizens overusing the natural resources of their own country, but also of other countries when they run out. This can be done either directly (ex. land purchases) or indirectly (ex. rise in exports of soy and beef from Amazonia to China). I never considered that the increased need for farming and raising animals would create an increase in deforestation. The need for land is something that will continue increasing with the increasing population size and misuse of land that kills nutrients in the soil. This article mostly had a large effect on the way I think about deforesting, and that a portion of it is in fact an unintended, yet profitable, consequence of other demands. Because of this, to help the Amazon forests, we not only need to advocate the decrease of deforesting for wood materials, but also for any indirect reasons.

Giang Nguyen

First of all, I'm not surprised that similar to other developed countries, China is growing at such a fast rate but not at the expense of its own natural resources, but other countries, in this case, Brazil's resources. Also, the article shows how big a part globalization plays in our life. I don't think a normal consumer in China would associate the meat they eat every day with deforestation in a country that is on the other side of the world. I believe this kind of lack of knowledge/ignorance is a huge part of the problem.

I'm curious about what the future for the Amazon forest is going to look like. We have Brazil and 8 other countries that share the forest, who are also cutting down trees for their own agriculture. Now we have China which is buying land, investing in infrastructure and taking ownership of the Amazon. Especially through COVID, Brazil has become even more reliant on trade relations with China. I personally think if everyone keeps putting their benefits first like we are seeing now(which is likely), it will be hard to control deforestation.

Mohammed R Mourtaja

When we took ECON-180 last semester, we were always talking about globalization and how it helps us because of the comparative advantages and our ability to trade. If I were given the data of trade between Brazil and China before this article, I would say this is beneficial for both countries because China is getting what it needs, and Brazil is getting money. However, this article tells us to think differently and what is at stake. It is our environment. We are losing it because of Brazil's corrupt system and China's careless actions.
It was interesting reading this article, but it makes also asks questions: What do we expect from people who could benefit from trading with another country if we do not compensate them? Is china doing this on purpose because it does not want its resources disturbed? I do not want to make an assumption here, but it is an important question.
Also, how do we produce enough products for all people? At this moment, I recall what was discussed in the seminar and say the developed countries must step in. This is because they use most of the resources in the world even though they are only 20% of the world's population. During Econ-180 and now, I always talk about the government's importance in those situations as I would marry a government. However, I still strongly believe that the governments, elected by people who are aware of these issues, should work on solutions because the market does not have an invisible hand to solve this.

Jackson Hotchkiss

For me, this article was pretty upsetting. I remember in high school my roommate was from Brazil and he told me about the problems the country had With the deforestation of the Amazon. It is wild to me that one country (china in this example ) can have so much of an influence on the political decisions that are made across the world. Not only is Brazil one of the chinese leading importers but china now owns land in the amazon which only makes their grasp on the situation even stronger. Interesting that a country would go to such an extent and overlook all the social benefits of the situation.

My question would be if the people in Brazil could make an impact somehow and if so how would they do so? I know my roommate was pretty torn up by the situation and he expressed how as a member of the country he felt pretty helpless in the situation.

A Facebook User

This article was very interesting to me as deforestation has been something I have been exposed to for most of my life. My grandmother owns a tree farm in northern Michigan where I have lived and worked on for the majority of my life. Due to this, I wondered what the regulation process for such large scale deforestation looks like. Although regulation on such a large scale operation must be extremely difficult, the legal ramifications behind illegal harvesting of trees is something that came to my attention. Since such massive deforestation occurs and poses many threats to the Amazonian forests, what type of repercussions take place in the event of illegal harvesting of trees. Are there sufficient regulations and punishments to effectively deter from illegal harvesting, or do many operation go unacknowledged? I also found the progression of soy bean demand in China to be interesting. I found it confusing that in a seven year gap, while most other goods seemed to be gaining increasingly higher demand for export, the soy bean composite level of exports seemed to decrease.

Jacob McCabe

This paper builds upon patterns that I have noticed from our development economics class all the way to this one. The rapid globalization of the world economy has created a complex web of causes and effects, and the Amazon rainforest is one of the major victims of this development. With that being said, it is interesting to evaluate this chain of cause and effect, specifically with soybean production. Social values such as the wealth associated with meat consumption quite literally have world-changing effects, and the train of thought from pork to the amazon rainforest is likely nonexistent for consumers. A better understanding of the inputs for specific product would improve consumer education, but that is an idealistic concept that would be impossible to put in action due to the sheer complexity of the global economy.

Josh Fingerhut

This article was really interesting to me because it forced me to consider environmental issues outside of the lens of the United States. I was initially surprised to learn about the large impact that China has had on deforestation in the Amazon. When it comes to globalization, I feel as though people are quick to discuss the benefits such as cheaper goods, comparative advantages, and theoretical increases in prosperity. However, this article provided a concrete example of a negative of globalization, one that I had not really considered. In a global economy, countries may accept higher levels of depletion of their own natural resources as they can trade with other countries for these resources if they run out. This may explain why China has already depleted many of its resources including clear-cutting almost all of its natural forests. The global economy allows them to find a cheap substitute.

This paper was published in 2012. China's population and economy has grown since then and will continue to grow. Therefore, we would expect to see them continue to contribute to deforestation in the Amazon. The Amazon provides ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration that benefit the entire world. Therefore, global organizations such as the UN and NATO may be wise to look into tariffs or other measures to prevent wide-scale deforestation

Valerie Sokolow

This reading make me think about questions more along the lines of “next steps.” Qualitatively and quantitatively, it makes sense that China can have a large effect on Brazil’s rainforest through various avenues. If we assume that these exploitative, environmentally damaging effects are bad, we are still left with the question of what to do. Is it on China to decrease their demand and consumption or is it on Brazil to stop supplying China through decreasing their rainforest stock? It’s hard to imagine a world where either one of those avenues are utilized. As we discussed in class, a tax could end up impacting small farmers negatively, but a subsidy seems like it would have to be large enough to where farmers would turn down money from China. But, what if demand from China is more inelastic than predicted, and it becomes a sort of cat-and-mouse game where Brazil (or another environmentally conscious firm) must subsidize these farmers more and more as China keeps trying to throw money at the farmers? Is there a point at which China may decrease their demands, switch to another product, or just turn to their own land to exploit? Perhaps I am imagining a situation that could never happen, but I feel like the international trade seems to exacerbate the problem from a more institutional side that boils down to a “who’s in charge?” sort of scenario.

Trip Wright

This article was enlightening as it revealed how interconnected the global economy is and its impacts beyond promoting a countries GDP. I think it is important to recognize the immense "purchasing power" that global powers have over other developing/less developed countries: such is the case China and Brazil. The global trade market offers an opportunity to share goods/services around the world in a matter of days, perhaps hours, which is incredible! Yet, the efficiency that global trade occurs creates additional negative social costs or negative externalities. The largest social cost at hand from this article is the increased activity of deforestation due to China's consumption of soy beans and cattle. The trade relationship between the two nations appears to be mutually beneficial as China is able to purchase soy beans/beef at lower costs (factoring in opportunity cost), while rural communities in Brazil's Legal Amazon are generating income to be able to live. However, the exchange between the two countries is leading to detrimental effects for Brazil and the globe because of deforestation! This study found that China's demand for such commodities creates deforestation in the Amazon Forest region of Brazil. The leading factors is the process of growing soybeans on former pastures, which expands the production of soybeans at the expense of cattle being displaced and ranching activity being moved into forest areas, ultimately leading to more deforestation to accommodate the cows.

What I found most surprising was how a country on the other side of the world could influence the rate at which deforestation occurs in another country. In fact, China views Brazil as an economic endeavor worth pursuing and perhaps exploiting more with there ability to finance major infrastructure projects in Brazil: end goal appears to be rooted in self-interest and expedite shipping of goods out of the forest and across the Pacific Ocean. The interest in committed funding to the construction and operation of a railroad between Legal Amazon states could severely disrupt ecosystems, biodiversity, and many additional social benefits of tropical forests. However, as is a theme today, the concern tends to lie in the short-term, rather than address the potential bigger impacts of tomorrow. Meanwhile, Brazil's commitment to continued growth on the world's stage from foreign investment and infrastructure supersedes taking any environmental action mainly due to corruption; the tragic capitalist cycle continues.

Hayden Roberts

It is true that when we think about deforestation and ecosystem degradation in Brazil we often point fingers directly at Brazil. However, this article shows the point that most of these actions taken by Brazil are due to external factors like China. To support its massive economy of production, China looks to other nations to trade for the resources it needs to continue its prosperity. The leaders of Brazil, looking to increase their own role in the international trade game, will always take this opportunity. Brazil does not profit from allowing another country to make these trades with China. Brazil is not necessarily compensated if it chooses a path of conservation, so I can imagine why they choose to destroy the environment. Of course, the question that arises focuses on how Brazil can be incentivized to conserve rather than destroy for profiting trade. I am not totally the best way for this to happen considering there would have to be a lot of different nations involved to compensate for the loss in economic growth.

Merritt McCaleb

I’m fascinated at how China, a leading global economy, wields a vast amount of influence on Brazil’s economy and their Amazonian region. As China is a member of the Paris Agreement, I’m disheartened at its disregard for the Amazon Forest – I understand that China’s large economy requires it to maximize its profits, but certain initiatives should be implemented in order to alleviate the amount of deforestation in the Amazonian region. Further, as the paper was published in 2012 – and thus various projects were being debated at the time – I’m curious about the current relationship ten years later between China and Brazil’s Amazonian Forest, especially during the global pandemic. How did China and Brazil handle exports at the beginning of the Covid pandemic in 2020? Was there a brief increase or decrease in the amount of deforestation during that time? How has it evolved since then? Additionally, I’m curious has to what the Brazilian people think of the deforestation of the Amazonian region in lieu of the increase in research and conversations about global climate change over recent years; are they concerned for the region, or do they enjoy reaping the economic benefits?

Jack Lewis

China's influence over Brazil and the Amazon rainforest is truly unfortunate when considering the environmental effect of trade. On the other hand, economic prosperity for Brazil, China, and other countries that benefit from their trade. After learning about interdependence in macroeconomics, I learned that a lot of major economies depend on each other. For example, if the US were to stop trading completely with the UK, then the effects of the stoppage would be felt by a number of countries and their GDP could potentially be affected. So with this perspective, I understand the necessity to trade on China's part. However, there must be a way to mitigate the amount of deforestation to keep a biodiverse forest. We talked in class about how important biodiversity is, as our next cure for a significant disease could be found in the Amazon. Even more option value and existence value is very important to us. Unless we can somehow find substitutes for the lost species, we are trending in the wrong direction.

Isabel Lourie

What is most concerning to me about the economic relationship China has with Brazil is that China is not only trading with Brazil, but the investment purchases of Brazilian land by Chinese firms, along with investments in Brazilian development benefiting export. Because of the power China has to spur economic growth in Brazil, its power for policy also increases, which can be leveraged towards increased logging, herding, and soy agriculture, and subsequently towards deforestation and less sustainable practices. Is this a problem faced by other less economically developed countries that contain the world's tropical forests (and its valuable exports)? I would be interested to explore, for example, China-Africa relations (potentially considered imperialism) prom the perspective of tropical forestry and global vs domestic socially optimal levels of natural resource use in affected areas.

Andrew Arnold

I think this article is an interesting case study for how international of a problem climate change is. Politics obviously make solving a lot of these international problems difficult, so I think this makes way for economics to be the primary mode of change when it comes to combatting climate change. In this case, China is economically incentivizing Brazil to act against the long term interests of the world. Obviously, though, it is hard for another party to step in and bear the financial responsibility of incentivizing Brazil to stop. This is a spot where I think the UN could play a larger role in international economics than it has in the past. The biggest hurdle would be convincing enough countries that the financial tradeoff in the short term would be worth it in the long term. I think the UN would need to somehow obtain enough funding to act as a financial incentivizing force, but they would need to obtain funding from somewhere. How they would do that would be quite problematic.

Grace A Stricklin

I found it interesting that the article noted that periods preceding elections usually have increased deforestation efforts as a result of “anticipation by deforesters that election results will bring relaxed enforcement” or even amnesties that forgive past deforestation violations. This implies that political leaders are likely to give into short term economic demands from their constituents rather than adhere to their environmental morals. This may also mean that it is more difficult to pass progressively more strict environmental protection legislation as some of the previous progress is lost most election cycles. I also thought it was interesting that Brazil made an exception to its ban on exporting raw logs. This ban had been in place since 1965, but it was lifted from 1987 to 1989 for logs exported from the port of Samuel. The fact that during this time one ship of logs every two weeks was sent to China tends to support the idea that the government in Brazil has tended to prioritize monetary gains over protective environmental policy. Both of these points further support the idea that was mentioned in class on Tuesday that the UN or some other group should provide funding to Brazil to incentivize protecting the Amazon.

Clara Ortwein

I was interested to read about this connection between Brazil and China because it illustrates on an international level the power that larger forces and demands can have in influencing policy decisions. In the same way that many politicians are swayed by big oil companies, tourism, or other large contributors to national economy, China is creating an environment in which it is very difficult for policy to be created to protect the environment. This reminds me of conversations in class about how it must become known that the damages outweigh this monetary benefit. While it may seem that creating this relationship with China is stabilizing their economy, in fact it is leading them down a path where the exact opposite will occur. One thing that really confused me in this article was that it seemed that different studies concluded differing things about how soy planting, cow pastures, and past demand all affect deforestation rates. How can governments or policy makers make definitive decisions when they are receiving different feedback on these factors? I realize there are still important discussions occurring in these conclusions, but reading them just led me to confusion.

Allyssa Utecht

While this was an interesting article, it is kind of unfortunate that I didn’t feel like I was reading anything new or surprising. Across various environmental and economic classes I have ready a variety of similar articles detailing extensive ecological destruction across the globe that disproportionally affect developing countries. This article, in particular, however, raised the intriguing question of who is responsible for fixing these issues; both countries are acting in ways that benefit them the most economically. While it would be easy to point fingers at one or the other, this article effectively exposed the complexity of such environmental issues and that often the solution that is the most sustainable and environmentally friendly is often not the most profitable. Both countries are just acting in their best interest, but China was able to wield their interests more effectively due to their greater financial and political power. I found the cattle part interesting, because people are often quick to spout the negative ecological impacts of beef cattle, but in this case, a reduction in cattle size is actually indirectly related to increased deforestation; a transition from pasture to soybean cropping leads to more deforestation.
I am interested to see how this situation has evolved since it was written in 2012, especially in terms of timber and land purchases. The article discussed that while China does purchase timber from Brazil, it is still able to buy most timber from other tropical countries while also possessing the forest land holdings of bankrupt sawmills. The ownership this land did not initially sour a major increase in logging activity because other countries have been satisfying their demand for tropical timber, but I have a feeling this has changed since 2012 due to the exhaustion of timber stocks elsewhere.

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