Brazilian National Congress accelerates the Climate Clock

On March 9th, the "Ato pela Terra" will have Caetano Veloso and others to deliver this warning

Three clocks plague the world: the Doomsday Clock, created to estimate risks of atomic firing; the Climate Clock, which calculates the time for, at the current rate of CO2 emissions, to reach a 1.5 degree Celsius increase in global temperature in relation to pre-industrial levels; and the clock of autocratization (the Democalypse), which observes the gradual erosion of democracies.

They symbolize a sense of gravity and urgency, not arithmetic accuracy.

As I write, the nuclear apocalypse clock, not even updated after the Russian attack on Ukraine, strikes 100 seconds to midnight, a point it has never been; on the climate clock, there are 10 years, 1 month and 20 days to go before we cross the line; the clock of the democratic collapse no one dared to translate into a measure of time yet, but in Brazil a conversation between the military and the big Bolsonarista family would help to measure it.

Fire near the Jaci-Paraná extractive reserve, in Porto Velho, Rondônia - Christian Braga - 16.aug.20/Greenpeace

Alarmism is an ethical attitude, not a neurotic crisis. If poorly communicated, of course, the alarm can generate paralysis. Or even trivialize the message if it doesn't trigger action. False alarm can waste energy on a minor problem. The correct alarm, however, sets priorities and attempts to catalyze coordinated action.

Anti-alarmism offers no lesser risks. If the false alarm can make us err on the side of excess, which is sometimes justified by the precautionary principle, the false anti-alarm (the "don't look up") can ruin everything.

On the climate issue, nothing is more alarmist than the latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. It summarizes the certainties that the world scientific community has produced about the climate and its effects on social life. It is a weighted consensus among thousands of scientists, from thousands of research initiatives, not an individual eureka.

The latest report, released days ago, describes social vulnerability to the effects of warming that has already arrived and keeps growing. Extreme events, as was known, affect countries and social groups that least helped to cause them. And it warns that this brief "window of opportunity for a livable and sustainable future" is closing. In the words of Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, the IPCC draws an "atlas of human suffering".

The Bolsonaro government cannot even be considered anti-alarmist. To scientific evidence and record indicators of environmental and human degradation in the Amazon, it responds with denialism and delinquency (by dismantling environmental inspection bodies and amnesting organized crime).

The government also smuggles concepts and invokes the values of national sovereignty, property and freedom while hiding illegal enterprises and the loss of state control of the Amazon territory. It still lies in promising employment and development through policies that only multiply poverty, precariousness and violence.

Our Amazonian clock approaches the point of no return. At such point, the biome gradually transforms into something else, and loses the ability to provide environmental services that generate, for example, water for cities and agriculture, not to mention its role in regional and global climate. Heavy rains and floods on the one hand, droughts and extreme heat on the other, will increase.

Bills that speed up our climate clock are currently being processed in the National Congress. Five stand out: 2159, which eliminates prior environmental licensing; 2633 and 510, which grant amnesty and encourage squatting of public land; 490, which adopts a timeframe criterion for demarcating indigenous lands; 6299, which facilitates the approval of pesticides; and 191, which frees hydroelectric dams and mining on indigenous land.

The projects will not only have an environmental impact but also form part of a broad pro-corruption legislative package. The motto of this package is to reduce institutionality in order to expand discretionary personalism, and thus squander national wealth to produce oligarchic profit.

Destroying the environment became, in this century, synonymous with impoverishment. It impoverishes and also heats up, or vice versa. It does not only affect the lives of animals and plants, but makes any sense of progress and human well-being unfeasible.

If your child survives Brazil, he may not survive the climate. As far as the danger and extreme nature of weather events are concerned, his life will be much worse than yours. We just don't know how much worse. Not to mention if he is not rich.

It is in the hands of politics, not of each well-meaning individual alone. And the fate of this policy, right now, is in the hands of deputies and senators, starting with Arthur Lira and Rodrigo Pacheco. On Wednesday, March 9th, the "Ato pela Terra" will have Caetano Veloso and other artists in front of the Congress to deliver this warning.