When Notre Dame was burning, wealthy individuals, banks and companies like Apple jumped in to help. More than €700 mil were raised within 24 hours. After 48 hours, it was already approaching €900 mil. Now the Amazon is burning, and while most of the media attention currently focuses on Brazil, there are also severe fires in Bolivia, Siberia, central Africa and other places. We have to do anything in our power to stop the deforestation of forests everywhere in the world. We should be planting more trees, instead of destroying existing forests.
The only one that has publicly pledged to help so far has been Leonardo DiCaprio.
Where are all the other wealthy individuals, banks and companies?
What about Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, that made his fortune with a company he called Amazon? Jeff Bezos recently paid $38bil in divorce settlements and still remained the richest person in the world. What could such an amount of money achieve when invested in causes like protecting the Amazon? Jeff Bezos has proven to be exceptionally imaginative, as have been other self-made billionaires like Elon Musk. If they can’t find a solution, who can? They also have an obligation. Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has a very real impact on the environment as has Elon Musks Tesla and other endeavors.
The motive for deforestation comes down to one thing in the end - money. If the people that benefit from deforestation would make the same or more money out of protecting the Amazon, it’s hard to imagine they would not take the deal. They might be unscrupulous and corrupt, but not stupid. So if, for example, a fund would collect money to pay $1000 per year for each square km of rainforest (5,500,000 km²), that would amount to about 5.5 billion dollars per year for the countries that own the Amazon. A nice sum, that can go a very long way employing people to protect the rainforest and compensate landowners and other interest groups.
The governments of both Brazil and Bolivia have refused international aid for political reasons. They will probably not have any problems accepting money from non-state actors.
That the world pays for protecting the Amazon is only fair. Brazil and other countries with tropical rainforests or other precious natural resources should be compensated for abstaining from making money by exploiting those resources. They have all the right in the world to do with their territory as they please. But it’s in the best interest of everybody in the world that the Amazon, which binds vasts amount of CO², remains as intact as possible. We simply can’t afford to lose more of it, climate change is already going to be bad enough with the levels of deforestation we already have.
Recently the hashtag
#PrayForTheAmazon has been trending all over the world. Variations have been used in posts by celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo, Madonna and Ricky Martin.
The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and its been burning for the past 3 weeks. It’s our responsibility to help to save our planet. #prayforamazonia pic.twitter.com/83bNL5a37Q— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) August 22, 2019
While it’s great that the topic of deforestation gets exposure, there are more effective things than praying. And there are people that have the money and power to make a real difference in the fight to stop deforestation of the Amazon.
We all are responsible for doing our part in saving the Amazon, and many people already do. But our power is very limited. We can reduce meat consumption, resource usage and donate money, but we can only make a relatively small (but still important) impact.
People with a lot of wealth and influence can accomplish much more. Not only by using their influence, but also by using their money. According to a report by Oxfam, in 2018 26 people owned the same as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. Those estimates are based on data released by Credit Suisse and the Forbes Annual Billionaires List.
Often we are asked to contact our political representatives to lobby for policy changes. Why not lobby the people that really have the power to change something instead?
With great power comes great responsibility, and great wealth should also entail obligations - this is even part of the “Basic Law” in the constitution of Germany: Grundgesetz Article 14
There are people with incredible influence that they should use for saving the Amazon. Those people include Kylie Jenner (the most influential celebrity in the fashion industry), Jack Dorsey (co-founder and CEO of Twitter) and Markus Persson (Notch - creator of Minecraft) and many other celebrities and internet phenomena.
Then there are also others, that have the money and power to save the Amazon. According to Forbes there are more than 2000 billionaires in the world.
The 10 richest people in the world according to the Forbes 2019 Billionaires list are
|Rank||Name||Final Worth ($ bil)||Source|
|3||Warren Buffett||82.5||Berkshire Hathaway|
|5||Carlos Slim Helu||64||telecom|
|9||Michael Bloomberg||55.5||Bloomberg LP|
Some people on this list already invest into greater causes, most prominently Bill Gates with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but there are also other examples like Michael Bloomberg investing in clean energy: Bloomberg to put $500M into closing all remaining coal plants by 2030 - CBS News.
Others have pledged to donate half of their wealth, but only after they have died.
We think the people in the list and all others with the necessary funds and/or media following have to act now! Their wealth wouldn’t be possible without people using their products or services. Some of the people in the list sell products or services that have a direct impact on the environment. It is time they give back. They have the same responsibility to do everything in their power to save the world as everybody else - the difference is that their power is so much greater.
There is the Amazon Fund which was established to fund NGOs that protect the Amazon. It was backed by Norway (94%), Germany (5 %) and Petrobrás (1%). The Amazon Fund has received a total amount of about $1.3 billion to date. An impressive figure, but it pales in comparison to the $8.7 trillion that the 2,153 billionaires in the Forbes list control. Furthermore the current Government of Brazil has unilaterally changed the fund’s governance structure and closed down the steering committee that selects the projects to back (Reuters), so the future of this fund is uncertain. Donating money to NGOs can help a lot, but there is also the potential for mismanagement and the donations being misused.
So we need other, more effective measures to protect the Amazon. Who could pull that off if not the entrepreneurs that have transformed or even created entire industries? By saving the Amazon they could make themselves immortal and fundamentally change the world for the better. It’s hard to imagine a better return on investment than saving the world by stopping deforestation.
How cool would it be if one day “Mr. Amazon” Jeff Bezos makes an announcement that the founder of Amazon also saved the Amazon? By making a deal that he’ll bring jobs to Brazil and invest a certain amount of money each year or something like that?
We ask you to use the power of social media to put pressure on famous and rich people to act to save the Amazon. If only some of them were to invest a relatively small part of their incredible fortunes into protecting the Amazon, it would make a real difference.
Tag them on posts asking them to
#PayForTheAmazon, share posts that do so and make sure that they are aware that people are asking them to step up and use their power to act and save the Amazon. Have people like Cristiano Ronaldo, Madonna and Ricky Martin just prayed for the Amazon or are they also going to act? What about the other rich and famous?
Use social media to ask them about it.
Leonardo DiCaprio recently made a post on Instagram with some measures that everybody could take to make a difference.
View this post on Instagram
#Regram #RG @rainforestalliance: The lungs of the Earth are in flames. 🔥 The Brazilian Amazon—home to 1 million Indigenous people and 3 million species—has been burning for more than two weeks straight. There have been 74,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon since the beginning of this year—a staggering 84% increase over the same period last year (National Institute for Space Research, Brazil). Scientists and conservationists attribute the accelerating deforestation to President Jair Bolsonaro, who issued an open invitation to loggers and farmers to clear the land after taking office in January. The largest rainforest in the world is a critical piece of the global climate solution. Without the Amazon, we cannot keep the Earth’s warming in check. The Amazon needs more than our prayers. So what can YOU do? ✔ As an emergency response, donate to frontline Amazon groups working to defend the forest. ✔ Consider becoming a regular supporter of the Rainforest Alliance’s community forestry initiatives across the world’s most vulnerable tropical forests, including the Amazon; this approach is by far the most effective defense against deforestation and natural forest fires, but it requires deep, long-term collaboration between the communities and the public and private sectors. ✔ Stay on top of this story and keep sharing posts, tagging news agencies and influencers. ✔ Be a conscious consumer, taking care to support companies committed to responsible supply chains. Eliminate or reduce consumption of beef; cattle ranching is one of the primary drivers of Amazon deforestation. ✔ When election time comes, VOTE for leaders who understand the urgency of our climate crisis and are willing to take bold action—including strong governance and forward-thinking policy. #RainforestAlliance #SaveTheAmazon #PrayForAmazonia #AmazonRainforest #ActOnClimate #ForestsResist #ClimateCrisis 📸: @mohsinkazmitakespictures / Windy.com
We thank Leo for doing more than praying! We should all take his advice to heart and think about what else can be done. Leonardo DiCaprio has put his money where his mouth is! How about other celebrities and extremely wealthy people? What do they do to save the Amazon?
Let’s ask them!