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A Breath of Fresh Air

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This past March, a seminar titled “Synod of the Amazon: Contributions from Sustainable Development” was held in Manaus, capital of the State of Amazonas, as we said in a previous article.

In attendance was the Environment Secretary of the State of Amazonas, Eduardo Taveira, who moderated a discussion panel with two environmental scientists. After hearing the well-known eco-buzzwords criticizing even works of infrastructure such as hydroelectric dams and highways, the courageous Secretary, arousing the wrath of most of those present, said straight out:

“… I seem to understand, from the ‘science’, that we must resign ourselves to the underdevelopment of our area. It sounds a bit as if we have a moral obligation to be underdeveloped, relegating the Amazon to the inability of having roads. Let me give you an example I did not have before being in government. With the health crisis it was necessary to buy stocks of serum on an emergency basis. Due to logistical problems, to have it come by plane—it would arrive in two days—the price would be almost 100 times higher than the regular price. If that emergency purchase were to come by ship, it would take almost three weeks to arrive. So, this is the emergency we have.

Can we not have an innovative attitude to demonstrate how it is possible, for example, to have a highway in the Amazon? Can we not advance in the perspective of innovation to develop productive chains in the Amazon that guarantee, for example, the improvement of the social and economic indices in the interior of the State?

“…It is obvious that scientific thinking is extremely relevant to gauge the impacts that will certainly occur, both in the case of large infrastructures and climate change. But on the other hand, for public policy to do nothing is also detrimental because it relegates the [State of] Amazonas and the Amazon region to bear the moral burden of preserving the forest and making others see how beautiful it is….Here I am not putting forward a developmentalist view of the region without considering the statement by Drs. Phil and Adalberto. However, how we can move in a direction where we can ask: what model of development is appropriate for our region to take the population and traditional populations,  especially from the interior of the State, out of poverty? ….

“… I have understood the prospect of doing nothing. But for public policy, doing nothing comes at a very high cost. …

“What I mean is that it is flawed to see one point of view without looking at the other. It is flawed to say that we have 97% of the forest standing, preserved, and one of the highest poverty rates to be solved. I think we should not just talk about the pride of having 97% of the forest preserved but to proudly say that 97% of the preserved forest can take millions of people out of poverty. …

“Here I do acknowledge the role of science with its warnings that poorly planned policies can jeopardize the future of our region. But we cannot stop acting for otherwise we will have no future. We are not facing an easy challenge to solve. And telling only part of the story is as bad as failing to speak the truth. Failure to point out solutions is as serious as to not point out problems. This is our challenge.

“Recognizing the role of science, of the problematic, is extremely important, but not pointing the way is very worrying and quite deficient from the point of view of bringing a resolution to concrete problems of people’s lives, especially in the interior of the State of Amazonas.” [1]

Anyone who has been to Manaus knows how humid and stuffy the weather can often be, and how delightful it is when a gust of wind momentarily relieves the heat.

While we do not want to say that we agree with all that the illustrious Secretary has said, his speech is undeniably a breath of fresh air in an event (with few participants, it is true) with radical leftists, catastrophic environmentalists, and even worse, activists of the ill-fated Liberation Theology.”

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C247AjIGtds

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