Faced with all the news related to the pandemic, threats of a coup, institutional crises between the judiciary and President Jair Bolsonaro, and the increase in inflation that erodes purchasing power, Brazilians were informed on the evening of August 31, by the minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, that the country is in the midst of one of the worst water and energy crises in its history. In 90 years, it has never rained so little in the south-central region of the country.
“This is a natural phenomenon that also occurs with the same intensity in other countries. Today I inform everyone that our hydro-energy situation has worsened,” stated the minister in a radio and TV channel.
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Despite the justifications of the president of the ministry, climate specialists had already warned years before: the advance of burning in the Amazon could lead the country to a water and electrical collapse.
But what is the relationship between the advance of fires in the northern region, and the drought in the southeast and south? According to environmentalists heard by the report of Brazil de Facto Paraná, is much closer than one imagines, even provoking a lawsuit against the Brazilian State for climate litigation.
the rivers in the air
Flying rivers are atmospheric watercourses, formed by air masses laden with water vapors, often accompanied by clouds and propagated by winds.
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Professor Eloy Casagrande, PhD in engineering of mineral resources and environment from the University of Nottingham (England), environmental auditor for EARA, explains that the amount of moisture released in the Amazon irrigates the rains in the south and southeast.
“The amount of water that moves from the Amazon region to the south, southeast and midwest, and which can sometimes be greater with the water often evaporated by the tree crowns, may be greater than the flow of the Amazon River , about 200,000m³ per second”, he says.
Casagrande also explains that all the water pumped by large trees can transpire over a thousand liters in just one crown. “If you take 600 billion trees in the Amazon, imagine the amount of water that is formed in 24 hours in clouds and brought to the south of Brazil”, points out the professor.
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Fires precede the drought
According to an article published in 2017 by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), forests are responsible for recycling rain in the Amazon.
Meteorologist Pedro Silva Dias, from the University of São Paulo (USP), cited in a study published by the North American biologist Philip Fearnside, highlights that, in São Paulo alone, 70% of rainfall depends on Amazonian water vapor and its reduction, which could be caused by large-scale deforestation, would have serious consequences for water supply.
In this last month of August, according to the Fire Program of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), the Amazon recorded 28,060 fires, being the third highest index for the month since 2010, second only to the historic fires of 2020 and 2019. In parallel, the country registered the worst drought in the last 91 years for the period of September, according to the Electric Sector Monitoring Committee (CMSE).
The causal relationship, for Professor Eloy Casagrande, is direct and will cost the economy a high price. “It’s a shot in the foot for the agribusiness itself, one of the main factors responsible for the increase in fires. The industry is contributing to its own crisis. We are living in a state of climate despair, together with the issue of the Amazon, it will be a high price for agriculture”, he analyses.
In addition to the price for agriculture, the federal government has already warned that it will raise electricity tariffs, with the increase in tariff flags by 50%, to contain energy consumption and insure the situation of hydroelectric plants.
climate stability is a right
For the lawyer DéltonWinter de Carvalho, representative of the Institute of Amazonian Studies, who filed a climate litigation action against the Brazilian State, climate stability must be a fundamental right.
A lawsuit that requires the Brazilian government to meet environmental goals is currently pending in the federal court. For Carvalho, the action seeks to alert the State to the environmental crisis. “The Brazilian State needs to guarantee climate stability policies to preserve the social and fundamental rights of the citizen.”
Source: BoF Paraná
Edition: Frédi Vasconcelos and Lia Bianchini