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01/28/2022

Comments

Belen Delgado Mio

I think that this article highlighted something that we talked about during the last class: if rich countries want to see developed nations conserve their rainforests, pollute less, or implement other sustainable initiatives, they need to provide developing countries with the resources necessary to do so. This article demonstrated the link between commodities that China wants from Brazil, like soybeans and beef, to the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. China is able to have such a great influence on Brazil's environmental policies because this relationship is very beneficial to Brazil in several ways. This trade allows for Brazil's agribusiness to continuously grow. Not only that, but China has the financial power to invest in major development projects in Brazil like the Santarem-Cuiaba railway. Finally, China's purchases of Brazilian land help boost land prices in Brazil. Given all of the benefits that Brazil gains from China's trade and the deforestation of the Amazon, how could we expect Brazil to stop deforestation or to make strong environmental protection policies? If rich countries want to preserve the Amazon Rainforest, then they need to demonstrate that they are willing to invest in Brazil's economy, just like China has.

Matthew Todd

It is interesting to me to conceptualize the idea of "outsourcing negative externalities". China is able to engage in this relationship with Brazil. Yes, the entire world bears the cost to some extent, but it's easier to accept environmental harm half a world away than it is in your backyard. I also found the trend associated with amnesties and deforestation, which strengthens the incentives to choose deforestation as a mains of short-term economic gains. I question whether people will ever choose environmentalism over their immediate needs and interests without being made to by governmental bodies, that hold individuals and companies accountable for their actions.

Max Thomas

The tradeoff between international trade and deforestation ought to be a question of economic development. However, given widescale corruption in both Brazil and China, it’s doubtful that much development will result from large-scale agriculture in the Amazon. In engaging in agricultural trade with China, it appears to me that Brazil is not considering long-term consequences, alternative opportunities, or the wellbeing of its population.

Especially in the Amazon, Brazil’s soils contain relatively low levels of organic material, meaning that large-scale agriculture over several growing cycles is minimally efficient. While farmers appear to use exhausted agricultural lands for cattle farming, they would likely be better off maintaining prior forest ecosystems. Ultimately, by destroying their forest ecosystems, Brazil diminishes a competitive advantage – their unique environmental services. If Brazil were to embrace the Amazon's environmental services, it could likely generate more revenue than it does at present.

All that said, deforestation could be at least partially excusable if it were serving the people living in the Amazon. However, contract enforcement in Brazil is nearly non-existent, meaning those with legal ownership of forested areas have almost no legal protections for their land. As such, the Brazilian government frequently grants contracts to large cattle and timber firms without considering the legal status of purchased lands.

William Dantini

This topic is clearly complicated, as evidenced by the use of two linear regressions in the paper's results from data. I was impressed that only one interaction variable and an intercept were the only variables, whether dependent or control variables, that were insignificant. This means that the conclusions drawn are supported well from the data despite the complexity of the issue.
This complexity is something that current politics seems to be ignoring to some extent. I find the posts about saving the Amazon rain forest on social media to have a good sentiment, but it is not very helpful. The focus of these posts should actually be on what is incentivizing the Bolsonaro to support depleting Brazil's own resources. This ties into international trade, with China's demand being a significant force behind the economic need for Brazil to supply soy and other products to China.
This puts a lot of our environmental issues into a different light, because now we are in a better position to fight climate change and habitat loss by regulating our own demands, if we are willing. Many of the largest economies on Earth besides China are either the US or European. I don't feel that the US is green enough, but Europe on paper in the most environmentally-friendly region now. On paper. However, how green does Europe look when we factor in its economic demands? The Nordstream pipelines sure don't look green. A quick search shows that about 40% of the EU's imports are comprised equally of fuel and distillation products, electronic equipment, and machinery. These imports were not necessarily produced in a green fashion, especially the fuel imports. It is obvious that on a macroeconomic scale, demand forces are just as important as supply forces. Therefore, the WTO, national governments, and similar global organizations should reconsider their definitions for what defines a green economy. This definition should include all types of imports and exports, including foreign investments. Additionally, people need to be made aware of these factors in order to better petition their governments to take action.

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