This week three more environmental activists have been killed in their quest to protect what is remaining of the Amazon Forest. Environmentalist leader Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria, like so many Amazon activists before them, the Silvas were gunned down in Brazil.
The Silvas were quilty of fighting back. They reported illegal loggers to police and federal prosecutors. They confronted powerful interests that destroy the forest for the quick economic gains to be made from selling timber, or from clearing land to raise cattle or soybeans.
On Saturday, police confirmed that yet another rural activist was killed: Adelino Ramos, a land reform leader in the Amazon state of Rondonia, which borders Bolivia. Like the Silvas, he also denounced those who illegally cut the rain forest.
Three more names were tacked onto an ever-growing list of more than 1,150 rural activists who have been slain in land conflicts across Brazil in the past 20 years, murders mostly carried out by gunmen hired by loggers, ranchers and farmers to silence those who protest illegal cutting in the forest.
So many die because so few face punishment.
Threats against anyone who stands in the way of those who want to clear the Amazon are so routine, the Catholic Land Pastoral watchdog group known as CPT keeps a running list of activists whose lives have been threatened.
Silva, who publicly predicted his own death just six months ago, was on the list, along with 124 other environmentalists.
The Amazon represents over half of the planet's remaining rainforests, and it comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world.
The Amazon rainforest was short-listed in 2008 as a candidate to one of the New7Wonders of Nature by the New Seven Wonders of the World Foundation. As of February 2009 the Amazon was ranking first in Group E, the category for forests, national parks and nature reserves.
Environmentalists are concerned about loss of biodiversity that will result from destruction of the forest, and also about the release of the carbon contained within the vegetation, which could accelerate global warming. Amazonian evergreen forests account for about 10% of the world's terrestrial primary productivity and 10% of the carbon stores in ecosystems—of the order of 1.1 × 1011 metric tonnes of carbon.] Amazonian forests are estimated to have accumulated 0.62 ± 0.37 tons of carbon per hectare per year between 1975 and 1996.
Since becoming aware of the threat of Climate Change I have been working to raise consciousness of the threat and to provide some solutions. Mainly I've been working to promote policy changes at the governmental level and changes in consumer decisions at the individual level. My work at the grassroots level has been in educating and encouraging reduction of meat consumption as livestock production is one of the greatest contributors to climate change. Livestock production is a huge issue as it encompasses many environmental issues and concerns including; air and water pollution and water and land depletion which includes the immense issue of global deforestation.
After the killings Brazil vows to confront Amazon violence
“Crimes like these cannot become a routine practice in our country,” Maria do Rosário Nunes, the country’s human rights minister, said in a statement.
The Pastoral Land Commission, a Catholic agency that tracks rural violence in Brazil, said that the names of Mr. Ramos as well as Mr. da Silva and his wife had appeared on a list of advocates and workers who had received death threats in recent years.
Here is Environmentalist leader Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva speaking on November 2010. He and his wife were gunned down last week.