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Sumaúma: Jornalismo do Centro do Mundo
Edition 38
Thursday, 18 April, 2024
Another month, another heat record, another warning of apocalypse
Jonathan Watts
Altamira, Xingu River, Amazon

“Two years to save the world.” Two years. Two.

That’s not a warning from SUMAÚMA, or an indigenous leader, or an environmental NGO, or a green politician or a climate scientist. That is the title of a speech given this month by the United Nations executive climate secretary Simon Stiell. As the closest thing the Earth has to a planetary climate minister, he is not raising the alarm without good reason. He has the best science at his disposal, decades of studies and plans, and the world’s most powerful computers to make projections of how much the Earth will heat up in the coming years. He will have attended every major conference and spoken to senior leaders from many different countries. And from all of this he will know that global heating has entered a very perilous phase.

Everything will not suddenly end in 2026. The peril is more of a steepening slope than a sudden cliff-edge lurch into the abyss. But if we – as a species – do not act decisively before then to eradicate deforestation and fossil fuel burning, we can say goodbye to any chance of limiting warming to 1.5C. Every moment of delay increases the likelihood of truly frightening levels of heating – above 3C – by the end of the century.

The Amazon rainforest and its people (human and more than human) are already feeling the heat as we show in this issue. Journalist Mayra Wapichana has written a powerful account of the flames that devastated the area around Anzol in the state of Roraima, where fires increased 285% in the first four months of this year compared to the same period in 2023. Fabio Pontes, from Jornal Varadouro, reports from the aftermath of yet another flood in Brasiléia, a small riverside community in the state of Acre close to the border with Bolivia.

Here in Altamira, we remember the devastating drought that afflicted many parts of the Amazon region last year. We woke each morning to the smell of incinerated forest, the grim sight of a smog choking the sky, and news of boto dolphins dying from heat and lack of water, of fires around Manaus, of the Solimões at record low levels, of cows dying of famine because pastures turned into deserts.

Can all this be reversed in two years? Definitely not. But that means we must struggle that much harder. We may not be optimists, but we are fighters. We hope the same goes for all of you. Thanks as always for your solidarity. None of us can face this alone.
Read more
After floods and destruction, Brasiléia plans to move
An Amazonian border city already impacted substantially by drug trafficking fears it will not withstand the increasingly frequent climate disasters
Fábio Pontes and Gleilson Miranda, Acre
The fire that devoured Anzol
Fires have grown by 285% in Roraima, the result of crime, deforestation and the climate crisis, reducing part of the forest to ash, burning animals and leaving people with no home
Mayra Wapichana and Benjamin Mast, Roraima
Welcome to Itaituba, the gold laundering capital of Brazil
Amidst an explosion in illegal mining operations in the Amazon, a city on the banks of the Tapajós River has become a major beneficiary and facilitator. This journalistic investigation is a partnership between OjoPúblico and SUMAÚMA
Bruno Abbud and Michael Dantas, Pará
‘People are more outraged by Notre-Dame burning than by an Amazon river being poisoned’
Peruvian author Joseph Zárate, an Indigenous writer with an international reputation, discovered his own forest through the memories of his grandmother
Jaqueline Sordi, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul
Episode 35
A nonhuman take on the Amazon story. SUMAÚMA follows the journey of a howler...
Pablito Aguiar, Raimunda Tutanguira, and Jonathan Watts
Episode 36 he explores his forest home and tries to understand the humans who threaten it
Read here

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