Whether international pressure or a parent’s conscience is enough to convince Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro to try to curtail Amazon fires is a moot point.
His stridency, his contempt for science, and even the idea of his office’s obligation to humanity suggests that the rational, urgent response most of the world would regard as a minimum may be beyond him.
The EU seems to have reached that conclusion too as it has suggested that the Mercosur trade deal, one that took 20 years to finalise but has yet to be signed, may be in jeopardy if Bolsonaro does not do more to protect the Amazon’s rain forest — routinely described as our world’s lungs.
That outcome would appeal to Ireland’s, and the rest of Europe’s, beef farmers as they opposed the Mercosur deal even if it has hugely positive possibilities for the general economy and barely increased South American beef imports to the community.
That outcome would be a double whammy as it would make it more difficult than it already is to reduce our national herd and beef numbers right across Europe.
It is unlikely that European beef farmers would be as enthusiastic about highlighting the climate impact of that consequence as they have been about opposing Mercosur on “environmental grounds”.
This seems an unfortunate metaphor for our times — a moment when we persist with relentless production in pursuit of profit, even if that process jeopardises our very survival.