Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Can Brazil become the world´s first environmental superpower?

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It’s cool even to see the term “environmental superpower” being used in the media. I have said many times that, in a world with increasing constraints on natural resources such as water and land to grow food, fuel, and fiber, Brazil has tremendous potential.

In the article below Carrington hits the nail on the head in the subtitle when he says that “its challenge is to compete economically without destroying the environment.” Perhaps this could be rephrased with some editing on the popular, hippy dictum, ‘we need to behave now so as not to diminish the opportunities of future generations.’ Carrington is also arguing, wisely, that we need to consider the prosperity of future generations without sacrificing prosperity for people today. In addition to being unfair to today’s people, it’s simply unrealistic to believe that people today will make vast sacrifices for people not yet born.

Idealism and pragmatism. I’d like the two of you to meet. I know that my own parents made considerable sacrifices and made decisions that could lead my sisters and I to have a better life than they had. My parents have succeeded beautifully, and are now reaping the happy and healthy benefits.

So many Brazilians are making similar sacrifices today, working exceedingly long hours at often difficult jobs so that their own children have the opportunity to get an education and work better jobs. Since those children will not be able to eat money or education, steps will need to be taken to ensure that they have land and water to grow food and fuel, and other resources to produce the goods that can’t be grown, like laptops and iPhones. Sweet, sweet iPhones.

The popularity of 3rd party candidate, Marina Silva of the Green Party, shows us that Brazilians are indeed thinking about these resource constraints. The fact that Ms. Silva has been given such a prominent place at the discussion table is utterly astonishing, and very exciting, to me.

Brazil would not be the first nation to become rich from its resources – but its challenge is to compete economically without destroying its environment

Thursday August 5, 2010

Damian Carrington

The Itaipu hydroelectric dam stands along the Parana River in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil.

The Itaipu hydroelectric dam stands along the Parana River in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. Photograph: Adriano Machado/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Outside Dr Gilberto Câmara’s office, there is a large and beautiful satellite map of Brazil. From the fractal elegance of the Amazon and its tributaries, to the ochre fields holding sugar, soy and cattle, to the twinkling mega-cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in the south, the map shows why he thinks Brazil can be the world’s first environmental superpower.


Câmara has adopted the slogan: “Brazil – the natural knowledge economy“. He describes this as applying knowledge and technology to commodities to boost their value, and reels off examples: biofuels, in which Brazil leads world research thanks to its sugar cane ethanol and growing biodiesel production; renewable energy – 47% of the country’s energy is already green, a world record; and climate change – Brazil’s Amazon is vital to the planet’s health. Of course, it also has plenty of timber, beef, iron and aluminium, though he doesn’t boast about those.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

August 6th, 2010 at 1:54 am