As disasters do, the most generous qualities of humanity are brought forward as residents of the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo mobilize to send aid to flood victims. The news is constant now, that the devastation caused by floods that have claimed more than 500 lives in a few short days, is the worst natural disaster in Brazilian history. It is the third major disaster caused by flooding in the last three years here, triggered by a normal month’s worth of rain, falling in 24 hours.
Here’s a report in the Huffington post, citing recent news:
And a resident of nearby Itaipava cites “olho d’agua” as a common geological phenomena in the affected area where massive cloud cover over the highest points of the mountains, creates instantaneous rainfall, making flash flooding in lowlands. Under Lula’s government, poor people were encouraged to build their own houses using materials that were provided cheaply, but without any planning as to where it was safe to build. But not only the poor were affected, wealthy people who built in vulnerable areas were affected as well.
As I write, I’m only two hours away from the troubled areas, in the city of Rio de Janeiro. I look out the window at Pedra de Gavea, part of a National Forest that has been protected, that is intact and singing loudly at this moment. I asked my hostess if things like this have ever happened here. “Mostly just rain, but we had landslides many years ago when people were building houses where they’d taken away the forest to build. There are some natural landslides, but they don’t do much damage…”
Here’s a fact-filled document that I have yet to dig into, to gather background about the effects of deforestation upon the surrounding area:
I can’t help but wonder, how much climate impact could be made if we bring the Atlantic Rainforest back? How many slides would be prevented in the future? How much would weather patterns be affected?
It can be done, as we’ve seen by the example set by Willie Smit’s project in Borneo, demonstrating how a rainforest can be brought back to life in less than twenty years.
It’s time to begin such an effort here in Brazil. Don’t you think?
Donate any amount (not tax deductible – this is crowd funding) for more trees we’ll buy and give: