Twenty-seven years have passed since Fidel’s warning at the Environment Summit in Brazil that a biological species – man – is at risk of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions.
The fires in the Amazon has been among the most commented news in recent days at the international level, as it is one of the most important natural reserves in the world and produces 20% of the oxygen we breathe.
It was June 12, 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Fidel Castro spoke – briefly but masterfully – at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.
Those present applauded, even though there were some heads of state in the room who did not sympathize with what he was saying. But at least they recognized that his words were true.
What has happened since then on the same issue of climate change to which Fidel referred when he warned that “an important biological species is at risk of disappearing because of the rapid and progressive liquidation of its natural living conditions: man”?
Today, when that great lung of the planet, the Amazon, burns uncontrollably, I am certain that Fidel’s words resound in the ears of many. These are irrefutable arguments.
How can we explain then that the current president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, during the first 20 days of the fires that devastate the great forests, was blaming the fire on those who “try to undermine his authority” or “overthrow him from the presidency,” and attacking, without any evidence, Non-Governmental Organizations, which he accused of “having started the fires,” according to a BBC cable.
Scientific explanations show that due to the indiscriminate cutting of the Amazon rainforest, deforestation is occurring that reduces the level of local rainfall and the forest becomes drier and at the same time more flammable.
It is therefore totally irresponsible that in a matter such as this, which affects the whole of humanity, the fire has ceased to be fought during the first 20 days, which has caused one of the greatest devastations of the ecosystem in history.
And I return to Fidel and his speech at the Climate Summit, when he said: “consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the atrocious destruction of the environment.
And he said: “Forests disappear, deserts expand, billions of tons of fertile land end up in the sea every year. Numerous species are becoming extinct. Population pressure and poverty lead to desperate efforts to survive even at the expense of nature. It is not possible to blame this on Third World countries, colonies yesterday, nations exploited and plundered today by an unjust world economic order”.
Many other summits have taken place since 1992. Seminars, workshops, unfulfilled commitments, money that never materialized to help poor nations combat the effects of climate change…
Thus we arrived at the Paris Summit, between November 30 and December 12, 2015, when the Agreement was drafted, signed by almost 200 heads of state and governments who were committed to saving humanity from climate adversity.
It seemed that among the attendees and signatories was Fidel and that his words resounded in the ears and consciences of those who knew they were responsible for “saving the human species” because “tomorrow it will be too late”.
But life went by and two years later, in 2017, the world knew how much the new President of the United States was prepared to do to break with the main agreements and conventions reached through years of discussion, dialogue and mutual understanding.
Trump, in one of his first actions as President, broke with the Paris Agreement. He called climate change a lie, and looked for the nearest garbage can to throw away the documents signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Fidel’s 1992 foresight that “we are now aware of this problem when it is almost too late to prevent it,” does not seem to be known to this man, who from the imperial throne has ignored the Paris Agreement, and many other agreements essential to human life and peace on the planet.
Incidentally, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro – the Trump of the tropics – wants to imitate him in his departure from the Paris Agreement and ignoring the effects of climate change.
Meanwhile, the Amazon is burning and some regions of the world seem to be preparing an environment of war, where straits and seas can also burn.
The Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, covers an area of 5.5 million km2, 60 % of which belongs to Brazil.
The Amazon region had lost 5 879 km2 of forest in the last 12 months, 40% more than a year earlier.
This year, 39,601 fires have been detected. Between January and August 2019, the number of forest fires in Brazil increased by almost 84% compared to the same period in 2018.
Last year, the world lost 12 million hectares of forest, including 3.6 million hectares of primary rainforest, according to data from the University of Maryland.
The Amazon is not only home to hundreds of indigenous peoples and thousands of species of animals and plants, but also plays a key role in regulating climate and rainfall.
Among other functions, it is a great help in minimizing climate change as it stores millions of tons of carbon dioxide.
Tomorrow Will Be Too Late
Speech by Fidel Castro to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio Di Janeiro
Mr. President of Brazil Fernando Collor de Melo;
Mr. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali; Your Excellencies;
An important biological species is in danger of disappearing due to the fast and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: humanity.
We have become aware of this problem when it is almost too late to stop it.
It is necessary to point out that consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the brutal destruction of the environment. They arose from the old colonial powers and from imperialist policies which in turn engendered the backwardness and poverty which today afflicts the vast majority of mankind.
With only 20 percent of the world’s population, these societies consume two-thirds of the metals and three-fourths of the energy produced in the world. They have poisoned the seas and rivers, polluted the air, weakened and punctured the ozone layer, saturated the atmosphere with gases which are changing weather conditions with a catastrophic effect we are already beginning to experience.
The forests are disappearing. The deserts are expanding. Every year billons of tons of fertile soil end up in the sea. Numerous species are becoming extinct. Population pressures and poverty trigger frenzied efforts to survive even when it is at the expense of the environment. It is not possible to blame the Third World countries for this. Yesterday, they were colonies; today, they are nations exploited and pillaged by an unjust international economic order.
The solution cannot be to prevent the development of those who need it most. The reality is that anything that nowadays contributes to underdevelopment and poverty constitutes a flagrant violation of ecology. Tens of millions of men, women, and children die every year in the Third World as a result of this, more than in each of the two world wars. Unequal terms of trade, protectionism, and the foreign debt assault the ecology and promote the destruction of the environment.
If we want to save mankind from this self-destruction, we have to better distribute the wealth and technologies available in the world. Less luxury and less waste by a few countries is needed so there is less poverty and less hunger on a large part of the Earth. We do not need any more transferring to the Third World of lifestyles and consumption habits that ruin the environment.
Let human life become more rational. Let us implement a just international economic order. Let us use all the science necessary for pollution-free, sustained development. Let us pay the ecological debt, and not the foreign debt. Let hunger disappear, and not mankind.
Now that the alleged threat of communism has disappeared and there are no longer any more excuses for cold wars, arms races, and military spending, what is blocking the immediate use of these resources to promote the development of the Third World and fight the threat of the ecological destruction of the planet?
Let selfishness end. Let hegemonies end. Let insensitivity, irresponsibility, and deceit end.
Tomorrow it will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago.