The Brazilian Fossil-Like Way of Thinking

Environmental agenda is just an illusion, shows peculiar news week

For those who are used to this newspaper taking shots at the current government, the first Folha editorial, on Monday (22), was a surprise. In "The Amazon and the Heat", this newspaper wrote that "it makes no sense to open fossil fuel extraction fronts" and that the country "does not need to hit the brakes on its own development to mitigate the climate crisis, just redirect it". Ibama's decision to reject oil extraction at the mouth of the Amazon "indicates that a switch has been turned". Lula 3 has finally scored one, it's what the reader can conclude from the reading. The curious thing was to see the rest of the country shouting the opposite, during the course of the week, including the high ranks of the PT (Workers' Party) government.

Marina Silva was belittled by Congress. The Minister of Mines and Energy declared that the country's environmental ambassador is Lula, not his colleague. Prime Minister Arthur Lira took the opportunity to corner the Planalto, letting a kind of anti-environmental vendetta run in the Chamber. Attributions of the Ministries of Environment and Indigenous Peoples were carved out in the Interim Measure for the reconfiguration of the Executive. As a bonus, the House has resumed an unreasonable loosening regarding the protection of the Atlantic Forest and voted on the urgency of a project on the timeframe for land demarcations, which overrides the trial in the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court.

Marina shouted that international resources and the European Union-Mercosul agreement, among other initiatives, would dwindle with this kind of dismantling of the environmental agenda. It was only on Saturday (27) that Folha heard voices from the market who said exactly the same thing.

The media preferred to spend the week reporting the cracks of Lula 3. The energy transition is a concern, but only until page 2. The newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, in an editorial, wrote that "the environmental issue has become an ideological trench" and that the exploration of the Amazon region "should not be a taboo". The discussion, however, is not limited to a well on the equatorial margin, but to all fossil fuel exploitation. The technological race, boosted by artificial intelligence, promises to accelerate the obsolescence of oil, said the creator of ChatGPT. While France prohibits short-distance flights and shareholders embarrass Shell executives, in London, the president of Petrobras philosophizes that setting up offshore wind farms, for the Brazilian company, is like playing with Playmobil pieces.

Shallow debate, shallow solutions. On Thursday (25), headlines lashed at the government's package to subsidize economy cars, but few were those who adhered to the environmental incongruity of the measure. The most widely read was about which models would be cheaper.

If the switch has been turned, as the Folha editorial says, it seems clear that the environmental agenda will only start moving in this country after a great deal of pushing.


Champion of complaints from readers in the last week, the column "I was surprised by a possible Nazi salute", by Giovana Madalosso, gave rise to the publication of an Erramos (Errata) article, as it is said internally in the newspaper: "Folha was wrong to associate property in Santa Catarina with Nazism ". The newspaper took almost a week to verify the content of the article, in which the writer describes and classifies the roof of a house with the inscription "Heil" in a city inside the state (SC) as Nazi. Heil is a common surname in the region, which has been passed on from families to roads and trades over time. Since the 19th century, when the first German immigrants arrived in the country, according to one of the messages sent. There is a considerable mismatch between stories and meanings.

In its 'repair' article, Folha recalls that it had already corrected the information in the column through an Erramos (Errata) on the same Sunday (21) of the publication of the article on the website: "It is incorrect to state that the Heil inscription on the roof of the properties is 'very likely' a reference to a Nazi salute". The "very likely" was replaced by "possibly" in the article, which fueled new criticism.

The episode illustrates one of the many open wounds in the country infected by the extreme discourse of social networks and public agents. Instead of working for moderation, they are filled with likes and votes. Even before the contested column was made public, a reader from Joinville was already complaining to the ombudsman about many heavy comments made in articles related to Santa Catarina and Paraná. It is the same hatred that springs from insults and threats against Madalosso, which cannot be mistaken for fair criticism.

Nor does it help that Folha is not open to debate. The newspaper ignored comments about the episode on its traditional channel, the Readers' Panel. Leaving the task to social media is the same as surrendering to the beatings.

Jose Henrique Mariante
An engineer and journalist, he was a reporter, correspondent, editor, and secretary at Folha, where he has worked since 1991. He is the ombudsman

Translated by Cassy Dias