O que é este blog?
Este blog trata basicamente de ideias, se possível inteligentes, para pessoas inteligentes. Ele também se ocupa de ideias aplicadas à política, em especial à política econômica. Ele constitui uma tentativa de manter um pensamento crítico e independente sobre livros, sobre questões culturais em geral, focando numa discussão bem informada sobre temas de relações internacionais e de política externa do Brasil. Para meus livros e ensaios ver o website: www.pralmeida.org. Para a maior parte de meus textos, ver minha página na plataforma Academia.edu, link: https://itamaraty.academia.edu/PauloRobertodeAlmeida;
Meu Twitter: https://twitter.com/PauloAlmeida53
terça-feira, 5 de maio de 2020
sexta-feira, 28 de fevereiro de 2020
segunda-feira, 17 de fevereiro de 2020
A Conferência de Madri, fracasso ou sucesso?
quinta-feira, 4 de julho de 2019
Bolsonaro diz que Merkel e Macron não têm autoridade para discutir questão ambiental
sexta-feira, 17 de fevereiro de 2017
“Destruction and conservation in debate: Brazil’s environmental history in a global perspective”
by Nathalia Capellini
The International Workshop “Destruction and conservation in debate: Brazil’s environmental history in a global perspective” took place on October 13 and 14, 2016 in Paris, France. This workshop, the first ever to be dedicated to Brazilian environmental history outside of Brazil, offered a space to discuss both the state of the art and the new perspectives of this discipline. Studies presented dealt with a wide variety of environmental topics, including its representations, politics and material changes, and covered a large timeframe, from colonial times to contemporary studies. Despite the diversity of approaches, the research presented was linked by the idea of going beyond the declensionist narrative of Brazil’s environment that has historically characterized the reflections on this subject.
The workshop grew out of a desire to gather European scholars working on Brazilian environmental history and work to evaluate and overcome the lack of research in France on this field. This absence seemed odd in a country that has a large history of Brazilianist studies (including about the environment) and a tradition on environmental consideration in history, with the heritage of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Lucien Febvre, Fernand Braudel and the École des Annales. In welcoming participants to the workshop, Antonella Romano, director of the hosting institution, the Center Alexandre-Koyré (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), pointed out that although there are many bridges between French and Brazilian research, and that the Center, among other institutions, has a commitment to developing the field of environmental history, thus far, these two subjects have not been combined. In response to the call for papers, many proposals came from Brazil and the United States, and so the workshop broadened and became a space of transatlantic discussion on the environmental history of Brazil.
The workshop’s first panel was centered specifically on the colonial period. Inês Amorim (Universidade do Porto) analyzed images and cartography of Brazilian territorial occupation produced during colonization and made the case for going beyond the Eurocentric view of this process as a homogeneous movement from the coastline to inner lands. Diogo de Carvalho Cabral (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística) reminded us of the effect literacy had on the subjugation of indigenous labor, territory and culture by the colonizer. Drawing on a more local analysis, Gustavo Azenha’s (Columbia University) presentation dealt with Portuguese interactions with indigenous people in a region of Southern Bahia over timber extraction and the concomitant rise of nature conservation policies.
In the second panel, Teresa Cribelli (University of Alabama) presented her ongoing research about narratives of progress through the use of natural resources and “wilderness geographies”. She examined nineteenth century International Exhibitions to compare and find bridges between the cases of Brazil and the United States’ frontier states. Ethienne Sauthier (Université Paris III) examined how Brazilian writers like Lima Barreto and Euclides da Cunha depicted tropical nature as an identitarian element for national sentiment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Ely Bergo de Carvalho (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais) presented a study about the representations of Brazilian environment in school textbooks since the 1960s. He observed that they follow a declensionist pattern while, at the same, praising (capitalist) development, inhibiting a critical perspective on the matter.
On the evening of the first day a broader debate took place about the environmental policies of Brazil after the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Led by the environmentalist André Abreu de Almeida and the journalist Frédéric Pagès, the conversation was an open dialogue between civil society and academia. The discussion was strongly politicized and dealt with the legacy of Presidents Lula and Dilma’s policies for the environment and the prospective actions of the current government. Many participants expressed their fear of increased attacks against the nature preservation law in Brazil and the communities that depend on it. Abreu de Almeida underlined the need to get out of a good versus bad dichotomy to find better solutions to the environmental (and political) crisis in Brazil, and Pagès stressed the fact that these attacks against environmental and social environmental movements in Brazil are not new. Even though the assessment of the current and future situation was rather negative, the debate ended on the positive note that the crisis might be an opportunity to build a new critique of the political system based on political ecology.
The second day opened with a round table organized to go beyond the Brazilian example. The presentations included other world regions (Mexico, Cambodia and Malaysia) and a transnational space (the Amazon forest). Jorge Quetzal Argueta (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) presented a study about the history of agronomic research in Mexico stressing the role of foreign expertise and environmental conflict in this example. Matthieu Guérin (Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales) compared the colonization processes of Malaysia and Cambodia and their impact on the evolution of forests, fauna and later environmental policies, questioning the relevance of the nation-state scale. The following presentations dealt with the Amazon forest: Kevin Niebauer (Freie Universitat Berlin) discussed the globalization of the Amazon rainforest focusing on the role of circulation of scientific knowledge, while Thomas Mougey (Maastricht University) focused on the UNESCO’s project for an International Scientific Institute in the Amazon. In this panel the importance of transnational and foreign actors in the management of the environment was central: the role of U.S. corporations in Mexico’s case, the ex-colonial powers for Malaysia and Cambodia, the international scientific community and international agencies in the Amazon case. That is not to say that these territories are always under the yoke of outsiders, as Mougey underlined in his study questioning the marginalization of the Amazon forest in global history. Guérin emphasized the common trends and actors in the comparison of environmental histories of the Global South but also highlighted the importance of local (and very local) dynamics for understanding the complexity of these histories.
The next session started with Jennifer Eaglin’s study of caneworkers and the Guariba strikes of 1984 in São Paulo, and their impacts on establishing labor rights under an exploitative agriculture-focused development program. Next, Claire Lagier’s presented on the Landless People’s Movement (MST) in Southern Brazil and their ecological turn. The discussion showed the connections between these two examples through the figure of the agricultural worker and how the Guariba strikes ended up influencing the adoption of agroecology by MST.
The last session started with the presentation by Mariana Sales (Université Paris III) of the eighteenth century manuscripts of traveler Ferdinand Denis on the Brazilian flora gathered in the Saint-Genevieve’s library. Then, Georg Fischer (Aarhus University), using the example of iron ore extraction in Minas Gerais around 1910s, talked about the making and circulation of knowledge around iron prospects and how it shaped the materiality of a commodified landscape. Last, André Felipe Cândido da Silva (Fiocruz) stressed the key role of science and technology in development projects in Brazil while presenting his research program, “Water, Health and Environment in Development Projects in the Brazil of the Twentieth Century”. The role of experts, doctors, intellectuals and travelers in the production of knowledge around nature and the subsequent transformation of nature into resource was central to all of these papers.
José Augusto Pádua, professor of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and leading scholar on Brazilian environmental history, gave the closing lecture titled “Brazil in the History of the Anthropocene”. He presented a longue-durée approach to Brazilian history in relation to the three waves that evoke the Anthropocene concept, industrialization (1800-1945), the great acceleration since the 1950s and the current “self-reflecting” times. In his presentation he emphasized the importance of global connections in this analysis and developed some ideas on the key role of environmental history’s reflections for the present and future of the environment in Brazil.
These two days of discussion offered a very broad perspective on the research being done on Brazilian environmental history in Brazil, the United States and Europe. This international panorama proved very enlightening for European researchers working on the subject. Likewise, European researchers offered original viewpoints and new archival possibilities. The studies presented showed the importance of transnational as well as local dynamics and revealed the importance of conflict in the making of environmental histories. In spite of the variety of issues presented in the different studies, the strong links between environmental history and history of sciences stood out. Overall, the workshop offered a more careful and complex understanding of environmental dynamics in Brazilian history beyond a narrative of plundering and destruction. In sum, the workshop was very fruitful and announces potentially promising pathways for Brazilian environmental history research in Europe and further afield.
The workshop was organized by Antoine Acker, postdoctoral fellow in the Environmental Humanities Research Group at the University of Turin, and Nathalia Capellini, PhD candidate in history at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. This workshop was made possible with the help of several institutions, and especially the European Society for Environmental History that granted us with their Small Workshop Fund, the Institut des Amériques, the Centre d’Histoire Culturelle des Sociétés Contemporaines (Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines) and the Association for Brazilian Research in Europe.
terça-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2015
Ecologistas sonhaticos: um perigo para a Natureza, e para a Humanidade - book review (The City Journal)
In his sprightly recent book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, Alex Epstein takes on Naess’s American progeny—people such as Bill McKibben and David M. Graber—who have become influential opinion-makers on the environment, fossil fuels, and technology. Epstein asks us to imagine someone transported to the present from a virtually fossil fuels-free England in 1712, when the Newcomen steam engine was invented. What would that person think of our world, where 87 percent of all energy is produced from fossil fuels? In short, he’d be amazed to find clean drinking water, sanitation, enviable and improving air quality, long life, freedom from much disease, material prosperity, mobility, and leisure.
Epstein makes a compelling “big picture” case that the interaction of technology and fossil fuels provides everything we take for granted today. He also reminds us of earlier hysterical predictions of doom concerning fossil-fuel use. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, environmentalists such as Paul Ehrlich predicted mass starvation by the year 2000 because “world food production could not keep up with the galloping growth of population.” Flat wrong: the world’s population doubled, and the average person today is far better fed than when the starvation apocalypse was announced. That’s because the other apocalypse proclaimed back then—the depletion of oil and natural gas by 1992 and 1993, respectively—also proved wrong. Since 1980, worldwide usage of fossil fuels increased massively, yet both oil and natural gas supplies have more than doubled, and we have enough coal to last 3,000 years.
Epstein explains what the environmental doomsayers could not or would not see: first, that “fossil fuel energy is the fuel of food”; and second, that the human mind is as powerful as Franklin and Bacon said it was. Humans discovered more fossil fuels, and technology used those fuels to industrialize food production. Moreover, fossil fuels enabled Norman Borlaug’s Green Revolution in food science, which, unlike the political movement of that name, actually did something to improve world nutrition and relieve the suffering of millions. Ehrlich was also wrong about fossil-fuel pollution in the developed world. In the U.S., though the use of fossil fuels climbed steadily since 1970, emissions of pollutants decreased dramatically—thanks to technology.
Predictions of starvation, depletion, and pollution didn’t pan out. What about global warming? Epstein’s warming discussion should be required reading. He acknowledges the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide, which can be demonstrated in a laboratory. But the effect is not linear; if it was, every new molecule of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere would add a unit of heat equivalent to the one preceding it. Rather, the greenhouse effect is decelerating and logarithmic, which means that every additional molecule of carbon dioxide is less potent than the preceding one. Many theories of rapid global warming are based on speculative models of carbon dioxide interacting in positive feedback loops with increases in atmospheric water vapor. Most climate models are based on so-called “hindcasting,” coming up with explanatory schemes that predict what has happened in the past. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, since the only alternative would be clairvoyance—but predicting the past with a computer model is not the same as accurately predicting the future.
Most climate models, says Epstein, have consistently and dramatically over-predicted mid-tropospheric global warming. We haven’t “burned up,” as McKibben predicted we would in 1989. Some suggest that the warming is occurring in the oceans; but mean sea levels around the world have been stable or declining for the last 100-plus years. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels have increased by .03 percent to .04 percent and since 1850, temperatures have risen less than one degree Celsius (an increase that has happened in many earlier time periods). And for the past 15 years—a period of record emissions—there has been little to no warming.
The warming models may prove correct in the long term, of course, so Epstein asks a reasonable question: What if it becomes clear that, in the next 100 years, the seas will rise by two feet and the globe will warm by 2 degrees Celsius, as predicted by many climate scientists? The answer is simple, though often ignored by climate alarmists: we’ll adapt. Since the Industrial Revolution, and especially in the last 30 years, the human race has become progressively better at remediating the harmful effects of storms, heat, cold, floods, and so on. It’s irresponsible, says Epstein, to trivialize the power of technology to solve the problems generated by fossil fuels. Much of that technology could consist of fossil-powered techniques to capture and recycle or sequester carbon dioxide.
Epstein exposes the profound misanthropy motivating much contemporary environmentalism. He quotes Graber: “Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet . . . human beings have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth . . . and until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.” Alexis de Tocqueville noted that democratic peoples have a tendency toward pantheism in religion: given their passion for equality, they come to think that everything is God. To radical Greens like Naess, Graber, and McKibben, everything is God, with one exception: the human being, whose “impact” spoils the “independent and mysterious” divine.
Why do hysterical warnings about sustainability and depletion persist despite the failure of the crackpot 1960s and 1970s predictions? Because the non-impact standard—conceiving of the environment as a loving but finite God—sees the environment as having a limited “carrying capacity” of gifts, such as arable land, water, and crucial minerals, in addition to fossil fuels. The more people on the planet, the closer we are to maxing out that carrying capacity, the thinking goes. Thus the urgent call, made in 2010 by White House Office of Science and Technology director John P. Holdren, to “de-develop the United States.” This notion of a finite carrying capacity discounts the powerful role of human ingenuity in finding natural resources. But the deeper problem is rooted in the divinization of the planet as something that simply is what it is.
Epstein argues brilliantly that the carrying-capacity superstition amounts to a “backward understanding of resources.” The fact is that nature by itself gives us very few directly supplied energy resources: most resources “are not taken from nature, but created from nature,” he maintains. Every raw material in nature is but a “potential resource, with unlimited potential to be to be rendered valuable by the human mind.” Right now we have enough fossil fuels and nuclear power to last us thousands of years. “The amount of raw matter and energy on this planet,” Epstein writes, “is so incomprehensibly vast that it is nonsensical to speculate about running out of it. Telling us that there is only so much matter and energy to create resources from is like telling us that there is only so much galaxy to visit for the first time. True, but irrelevant.”
Bill McKibben says that the post-Ice Age Holocene period is the only climate that humans can live in. Epstein responds that the Holocene is an abstraction that summarizes “an incredible variety of climates that individuals lived in. And in practice, we can live in pretty much any of them if we are industrialized and pretty much none of them if we aren’t.” Until the Industrial Revolution, the climate was dangerous for all human beings. Since then, we have marched steadily toward “climate mastery.” Fewer people die today from the weather than at any time in history. “We don’t take a safe climate and make it dangerous,” according to Epstein. “We take a dangerous climate and make it safe.”
The non-impact standard is a pervasive but irrational prejudice—irrational because it’s a neo-pagan faith that the earth is in effect an uncreated God, and a prejudice because it’s asserted dogmatically by those who profess it and taken for granted by a public unaware of being in its grip. The default position on environmental matters is “respect” for the planet. It tilts opinion to focus only on the harms of fossil fuels and technology, not their benefits. The bottom line is always the same: humans should minimize their impact on nature.
Alex Epstein’s book is a breath of fresh air in this polluted opinion climate. The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels shows why fossil fuels are good for human flourishing in general and good for the world’s poor in particular. Epstein is a true friend of the earth—an earth inhabited and made better by human beings.
terça-feira, 3 de abril de 2012
Como o planeta inteiro quer resolver todos os seus problemas -- e mais alguns, de sobra -- com resoluções idealistas, o que vai se ter, na verdade, é muita transpiração, e pouca inspiração, como sempre aliás, nessas reuniões multilaterais muito amplas.
Não sou dos catastrofistas, e não acho que o mundo vai acabar apenas porque a geração atual -- gastadora, perdulária, ecologicamente irresponsável -- não vem fazendo aquilo que os ambientalistas vivem recomendando que ela faça: economia, não consumo, recomposição, reconversão, reciclagem, etc.
Acho que o mercado, e o sistema de preços, vão sinalizar perfeitamente a raridade relativa dos bens naturais e daqueles produzidos pelo homem, e, no devido tempo, vai inflexionar os processos produtivos para os mais sustentáveis do ponto de vista econômico. Pode não ser o do agrado dos ambientalistas, mas provavelmente será o mais lógico e o mais economicamente racional.
O resto é debate cansativo.
segunda-feira, 2 de abril de 2012
quinta-feira, 29 de março de 2012
Abaixo uma crítica de alguém engajado no processo, mas decepcionado com a pobreza, a penúria, a escassez completa de resultados tangíveis.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida
ENTREVISTA / RUBENS RICUPERO
Governo brasileiro e ONU diluíram agenda da Rio+20
Folha de S.Paulo, Ciência, segunda-feira, 13 de março de 2012, pág. C11
PARA O EX-MINISTRO, AUSÊNCIA DE METAS VEM DO RECEIO DE EXPOR AS CONTRADIÇÕES ACERCA DAS QUESTÕES AMBIENTAIS
O governo brasileiro é atrasado em matéria de economia verde e, por isso, tem sido cúmplice das Nações Unidas na diluição da agenda da conferência Rio+20. Quem acusa é o embaixador e ex-ministro do Meio Ambiente (1993-1994) Rubens Ricupero.
Um dos principais negociadores brasileiros na Rio-92, Ricupero, 74, coordena um grupo de políticos, intelectuais e cientistas que deve encaminhar ao governo um documento que critica as baixas ambições do país nessa área, especialmente em comparação com China e Coreia, e pede a criação de um ministério da economia verde.
Em entrevista à Folha, ele manifesta o temor de esvaziamento da Rio+20. "Se você faz uma agenda modesta, está dando argumentos para que o pessoal não venha."
Folha - O governo tem dito que a Rio+20 não pode ser comparada à Eco-92. Isso é medo de criar expectativa demais?
Rubens Ricupero - É receio de desapontamento e expressão das contradições que existem no governo em matéria de definições ambientais.
Como o governo é pouco claro nisso, procura acentuar mais temas econômicos e sociais. Você nota isso no desejo de inserir a Bolsa Família como um dos êxitos brasileiros na luta contra a desigualdade, que estaria em um dos três pilares da conferência. Não deixa de ser verdade, mas é preciso levar em conta que, no desenvolvimento sustentável, dois pilares, o econômico e o social, são definidos em função do ambiental. A Bolsa Família é meritória, mas não tem muito a ver com ambiente.
De outro lado, há o receio de não conseguir repetir aquele êxito extraordinário. Em 1992, a conferência começou com a assinatura de duas convenções-quadro da ONU, a de mudanças climáticas e a de biodiversidade, coisas que você não pode repetir toda hora. Não me surpreenderia saber que muitos chefes de Estado talvez não venham.
Mas o próprio desenho modesto da agenda da conferência não torna a Rio+20 à prova de fracasso, e portanto atrativa para os chefes de Estado?
Se você tem medo de que não dê certo e por isso começa a diminuir a expectativa e faz uma agenda modesta, está dando argumentos para que o pessoal não venha.
É difícil que essas figuras que estão batalhando com a crise do euro venham se a conferência for só uma declaração. Talvez esse formato de reunião já condene a um anticlímax. Uma comemoração nunca é a mesma coisa, é uma evocação, não uma repetição do fato.
Então não havia como a agenda da conferência ser mais ambiciosa do que ela é?
Você poderia fazer uma coisa honesta. Admitir que a conferência talvez não conseguisse resolver todos os problemas, mas dizer: nós não vamos varrer para debaixo do tapete os problemas que nos ameaçam, que são a questão climática e a do ritmo acelerado de extinção da biodiversidade. Uma maneira de fazer isso foi aventada pelo ex-senador americano Tim Wirth [que era subsecretário de Estado dos EUA na Eco-92].
A ideia era adiar a Rio +20 para o fim do ano, e que ela fosse antecedida pela Convenção do Clima e a da Biodiversidade. O pessoal ficou apavorado (risos). Com medo de que elas dessem em nada.
Nos documentos que o Pnuma [Programa das Nações Unidas para o Meio Ambiente] preparou para uma reunião há duas semanas, havia um sobre como medir avanço ou retrocesso em tudo: camada de ozônio, tóxicos, aquecimento, extinção. Isso permitiria saber para onde as coisas estão indo.
Indicadores de desenvolvimento sustentável.
É. Se tivesse havido coragem, poderiam ter preparado uma reunião que não escamoteasse a gravidade dos problemas. O que se está procurando fazer, e não somos só nós -a conferência é da ONU- é disfarçar isso.
Como isso se manifesta?
Uma das formas é a diluição da agenda. O governo brasileiro diz uma coisa que é difícil de criticar em si: que o desenvolvimento sustentável tem três pilares, o ambiental, o econômico e o social. Mas a forma como isso está se traduzindo é que tudo entra na agenda, até a reforma do sistema financeiro. O problema ambiental, que na verdade é a razão principal, acaba sendo um entre 678.
Houve sequestro da agenda da conferência pela agenda do governo brasileiro?
Não. A ONU baixou o nível de expectativa. O Brasil só se aproveitou disso. O governo é atrasado no tema de economia verde, a maioria das pessoas nem compreende esse conceito, há contradições.
O maior exemplo é o Código Florestal. Estamos na véspera da conferência com esse pessoal ruralista querendo votar uma coisa que é a negação da conferência. Como o governo tem essas contradições, a saída é diluir.
A ministra Izabella Teixeira (Meio Ambiente) disse que ninguém tem mais credenciais verdes do que o Brasil.
Isso é em parte verdade, por causa do etanol, das hidrelétricas. Mas tem outro lado. Estão fazendo mais termelétricas. O governo nunca conseguiu fazer um plano de transição para uma economia de baixo carbono.
A única medida de política econômica que eu conheço que o Brasil tomou nos últimos anos com um conteúdo ambiental foi o favorecimento a produtos de linha branca [eletrodomésticos] que economizavam energia.
O que você não tem é um projeto de país, de governo, em direção à economia verde, como a China está fazendo, com investimentos pesados em inovação. No dia em que eles tornarem a energia solar competitiva, vamos ter de comprar deles, porque eles estão investindo, nós não.
Por que não?
Falta um lugar onde se possa pensar essa política, porque isso não é uma política do Ministério do Meio Ambiente. Você precisa integrar o conceito de baixo carbono no planejamento econômico. Mas você tem planejamento econômico no Brasil onde?