[ SOCIAL AND PASTORAL BULLETIN No. 135 / Dec. 15 .2006 ]
Abe Keita (Franciscan priest)  

I wrote in one of the recent issues of this Bulletin about the natural dangers facing the region of Pantanal (Brazil). This time I would like to report on the dangers of global environment, on the occasion of recent news received from a Franciscan missionary, Fr. Ogawa Mitsuru, working in Brazil.
As many already know, the Amazon jungle enjoys, most probably, the richest natural forest existing nowadays, where a variety of multiple living species, 10% of all mammalian and about 15% of the world's flora, have their habitat. On the other hand, this is the world’s most devastated region on earth. It is believed that 18,000 km of the Amazon forests are destroyed every year.
In other words, during the past 25 years forests the size of Japan (377,000 km) and Holland (42,912 km) have disappeared from the earth. Only recently, the Brazilian government passed an important law against illegal lumbering of the Amazon forests as well as illegal logging trade, but in spite of that, at the same time, the Amazon region is going through a destruction process of its jungle. The reason behind is the huge capital investment conducted by Western multinational companies expert in rural business that, up to year2004, have converted about 1,200,000 ha of the Amazon jungle into big fields of Soya beans.
From the point of view of Brazil this only constitutes 5% of all its size and no matter the fact that large extensions of land have already been converted into rural land thanks to lumbering its forests, big multinationals like Cargill that, conduct large capital investments in harbors, storage of Soya beans and roads pavement projects, have started to buy virgin jungles for lumbering projects because it is economically cheaper than purchasing land available after it had been already lumbered. This situation has resulted in speeding up Amazon development programs for fields of Soya beans with increasing lumbering activities. An after effect has been the eviction of indigenous populations from their lands where they had tried to maintain the life and customs of their ancestors, but see those lands converted into fields of Soya beans.
Green Peace International (Holland) has published the results of studies done with regard to companies that produce Soya beans in Brazil. The results show that Western multinational companies are active in the Amazon areas lumbering forests, acquiring illegally land through false registration certificates, evicting its inhabitants and imposing harsh working conditions on local people. The survey reflects the great responsibility of multinationals dealing with agricultural products, like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge and Cargill, with regard to extensive lumbering activities. According to a mild estimate, about 60% of the total cost of Soya beans production in Brazil is shouldered by those three multinationals. Bunge alone invested, in the year 2004, one billion dollars in rural facilities of a big Brazilian landowner as a way to promote further big development rural programs.
The 2-year survey, without being confined to destroyed Amazon jungles and Soya beans lands, reached as well all other fields driven by the production of Amazon Soya beans. It covers the total process, from the decisions taken at the very start in top level secret discussions conducted by the management of big companies in the USA, to the Soya beans offered in restaurants or sold in the super markets of Japan and the West. Such products result in the destruction of tropical rain forests covering much of the earth.
The above Report of Green Peace also shows that about one million hectare of land has been destroyed, due to Soya beans production. This is only to mention land destroyed, because it is almost impossible to measure all the devastation done by fertilizers and agricultural chemicals.
From Japan, we look at all this as phenomena that occur in the opposite side of the world, but the rising of temperature this year in Japan helps us to realize that the whole environment is in danger not only at a global scale, but also close to us.
The "Climate Surveillance Report" of last October published by the Weather Agency mentions that the average temperature of the earth around the world has risen by 0.38 degrees a year. This yearly figure is the second highest, since the meteorological surveys started in 1891. October 2003 was the month with higher temperatures recorded since the surveys started. All over the world, the average temperatures of the earth during the month of October have been raising for the last long 100 years at a pace of about 0.59 degrees, as average.
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