Amazon forests not doing well

If Amazonian rainforests are, as the old saying goes, the lungs of the world, then our respiratory outlook is not good. The forests face a trio of threats. There are fire and logging, as poor farmers, cattle ranchers, and agribusinesses clear land for crops or cattle. Then there’s “dieback,” whereby the forest vegetation dies from lack of water, which is driven by drought, which is driven by climate change, which is driven by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is exacerbated by fire, logging, and dieback in the Amazonian rainforest. Ah, such tangled webs we weave. Attempts to break the cycle have been inauspicious. Last year, Brazil’s Workers’ Party, led by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, suspended logging licenses in an attempt to slow deforestation of the Amazon. In response, loggers and their allies rioted, blockaded a major highway, burned buses, threatened to seize an airport and dump poisonous chemicals in rivers, and promised that “blood will flow.” The government vowed not to “cave into blackmail,” and then, uh, caved into blackmail, restoring the licenses last week. And so the world’s lung cancer progresses, untreated.