Letter to Herbert on Rainforest

On September 16th, 2019 UPHE, Center for Biological Diversity, Great Salt Lake Audubon, SLC Air Protectors, and Utah Moms for Clean Air sent a letter to Governor Gary Herbert urging him to suspend all trade between Utah and Brazil due to Brazil’s lack of response to the crisis that is the burning Amazon Rainforest. If President Bolsonaro will do nothing to prevent the loss of invaluable global resource, we want him to know it is not okay, and hope that others will follow suit.

Read full letter below:

September 16, 2019

Governor Herbert
350 North State Street, Suite 200
PO Box 142220
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220

Dear Governor Herbert,

We the undersigned Utah environmental groups write to Gov. Herbert requesting that the state of Utah help respond to what is a global emergency: the alarming wildfires burning in the Amazon Rainforest.
The Amazon Rainforest is commonly referred to as the “lungs” of the planet, because of its critical and unique role as an important source of the planet’s oxygen, absorbing about 25% of the CO2 from burning fossil fuels, and its role in affecting climate worldwide. The Amazon has a powerful cooling effect felt throughout the globe. It creates its own weather, but also affects rainfall and cloud formation globally. For example, studies indicate that significant deforestation of the Amazon will reduce rainfall in key agricultural areas of the United States, like California
and the Midwest.

The Amazon is THE irreplaceable natural buffer from the worst-case scenario of the climate crisis. Yet deforestation and wildfires are pushing it toward a tipping point of irreversible ecosystem collapse and forest die back, which would leave most of the Amazon a degraded savanna. That will have devastating global climate consequences.

Destruction of pristine rain forest in the Amazon and on other continents is linked to multiple causes with multiple culprits–food corporations, financiers, national and state governments, and specific government officials. But most of the fires have been intentionally set by farmers to clear land for illegal cattle ranching, soy planting, and other agricultural uses. President Trump’s trade war has played a significant and direct role in this unfolding disaster because Chinese tariffs have led to soybeans raised by US farmers sitting dormant and unsold in silos, while farmers and corporations are destroying Brazilian rain forest to turn into soy farms for the Chinese market, now vacated by the United States.

There is plenty of blame to go around, not the least of which are the failed climate policies in the United States. But given the Brazilian Amazon’s unique importance in climate mitigation, and the Brazilian government’s disproportionate role in this catastrophe, including the actual encouragement of wide spread forest destruction by their current president, Jair Bolsonaro, it is necessary for governments at every level, throughout the world, to pressure Brazil to stop their disastrous behavior.

Therefore, we call on Gov. Herbert to:

  1. Pursue the authority to immediately suspend all trade and business agreements between Brazil and the state of Utah.
  2. Work with other governors to continue the current ban on importing Brazilian beef and expand the ban to other Brazilian goods into their states.
  3. Appeal directly to Pres. Trump to immediately withdraw the Chinese tariffs because of their role in creating this catastrophe. Bolsonaro has demonstrated that without pressure he has no intention of acting more responsibly.

The climate consequences are much too great for the rest of the world to not act. We hope this starts a similar movement in other states.

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment
Center for Biological Diversity
Great Salt Lake Audubon
SLC Air Protectors
Utah Moms for Clean Air

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment
423 West 800 South STE A108
Salt Lake City, UT 94101