Climate Activists Call For Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro To Face Punishments For ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

A group of climate lawyers are calling for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for his reported attacks on the Amazon, which they refer to as “crimes against humanity.”

According to CNN, AllRise, an Austrian non – profit organization, filed a landmark complaint that consisted of 286 pages in court in The Hauge, Netherlands, stating that Bolsonaro’s attacks on the Amazon and its supporters resulted in “persecution, murder, and inhumane suffering” in not just Brazil, but on a global scale.

CNN included some of the filing’s statements, which says that Bolsonaro should be held responsible for the future consequences that could derive from his Amazon policies, which have been highly criticized in the past.

“Climate science demonstrates that consequent fatalities, devastation and insecurity will occur on a far greater scale regionally and globally, long into the future, through the attributable links between the rapid acceleration in deforestation, its contribution to climate change, and the frequency and intensification of extreme weather events.”

Climate Observatory, which is composed of dozens of Brazilian civil society groups, is standing with AllRise and told CNN that Bolsonaro “promotes environmental destruction” and that he is an obstacle in the way of efforts to prevent global warming.

AllRise founder Johannes Wesemann spoke to Agence France-Presse (AFP), saying that “what’s happening in Brazil — mass deforestation — we want to understand the causal link to the global climate.” As AFP notes, this would be the first case seeking to connect deforestation to the loss of life.

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Wesemann also stated the goal of the complaint was to show the impact of deforestation, rather than speak on behalf of any person.

According to a statement release by Climate Observatory, deforestation rates have grown for two consecutive years by almost 56% since Bolsonaro took office in January of 2019. Those rates are expected to remain at a level of 10,000km, which would increase Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions.

AllRise estimates that the emission caused from the increased deforestation could cause over 180,000 heat-related deaths.

Meanwhile, Climate Observatory states the destruction of wildlife has worsened under Bolsonaro due to a lack of punishments for environmental violations, while the fund dedicated to preserving the rainforest has staggered.

“Under Bolsonaro, fines imposed by Ibama [Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources] have dropped to the lowest level in two decades, field operations have dwindled and the Amazon Fund, with nearly R$3 billion earmarked for forest protection, has been paralyzed since 2019.”

Illegal activities and mining have also increased in towns that support the President. It’s not too hard to guess why thousands have called for Bolsonaro’s impeachment.

However, there’s also a possibility this filing stops in its tracks. According to the AFP, the ICC has no obligation to consider complaints from individuals or groups, and cannot comment on matters until a prosecutor announces a preliminary examination into a matter.

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As Vox explains, the U.S. has been among the countries that have previously pushed Brazil to better defend its precious rainforests. However, during Bolsonaro and Donald Trump’s overlapping tenures, protection efforts decreased by up to 20%.

Since Joe Biden has taken office, Bolsonaro sings a much different tune, advocating his concern for defense of the rainforest while also asking for money in order to progress environmental efforts. The two leaders were unable to reach a rainforest protection agreement during April’s climate summit.

Deforestation isn’t the only action Bolsonaro has been under a barrage of fire for in the past couple days. In a press conference, Bolsonaro said he didn’t want to be “bored” with questions about Brazil’s coronavirus death toll. Brazil currently has 601,266 total COVID deaths, the second-most of any country and right behind the U.S.

Covid-19 Brazil

Brazil Covid-19 Cases Surge This Week, Breaking Its Single Day Record 

Brazil has broken its record for new Covid-19 cases reported in a single day this Wednesday with 115,228 new cases. This increase is due to the nation’s continuous delays in vaccine distribution.

Brazil’s health ministry and data from Reuters revealed that the country now leads the world for the highest seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases and fatalities; they surpassed India last week, which is also struggling greatly due to a lack of vaccine distribution and access. 

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When it comes to the total number of infections, Brazil is currently in third behind the US and India with about 18 million cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Brazil, however, has now surpassed India in terms of total death, with more than 570,000 fatalities as a result of Covid-19; India has experienced around 392,000 deaths. 

The US and other wealthier countries are seeing cases decline as more and more individuals receive their vaccinations. Other countries haven’t been so lucky in terms of receiving vaccines due to a lack of infrastructure and access. 

According to the Brazilian Health Ministry, 12% of the nation’s population is fully vaccinated. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has faced constant protests and criticism from citizens and other political leaders over his lack of action throughout the pandemic and slow distribution of vaccines. 

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According to news reports, “a Brazilian Senate committee is investigating allegations of misconduct in the government’s response, particularly arguments that Bolsonaro did not respond to offers from Pfizer for its vaccine last year, instead making a deal to receive the more expensive inoculation from India’s Bharat Biotech.”

Bolsonaro and former US president Donald Trump received very similar criticism throughout the pandemic in 2020 due to their downplaying of the virus’ severity, and pushing for drug treatments that showed no evidence of preventing Covid-19. 

Bolsonaro has been fined by several local government bodies for not enforcing local mask mandates which led to an exponential increase in cases within the past year. 

He said earlier this month while speaking in Sao Paulo that “those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should not have to wear a mask. Whoever is against this proposal is because they don’t believe in science, because if they are vaccinated, there is no way the virus can be transmitted.”


Deforestation In The Amazon Is At A 12-Year High 

Between August 2019 and July 2020 the Brazilian Amazon experienced a 12-year high in deforestation rates, according to the nation’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). During that one-year time period, 6,890 square miles of forest were completely destroyed, along with the thousands of wildlife habitats within them. 

The destruction that occurred within this year is 9.5% greater than the previous year-long period, and is the highest level of destruction the Amazon has endured since 2008, according to the INPE, who recently spoke at a news conference to discuss this major issue. 

In general, deforestation rates have skyrocketed in Brazil since current far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office back in January 2019. Bolsonaro has highly encouraged the commercial development of the Amazon and has defunded numerous agencies that are responsible for preventing illegal logging, ranching, and mining within the rainforest. 

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Fires are often lit in the Amazon on purpose to clear vegetation from parts of the forest to make room for these illegal ranches. The surrounding forest area is typically already destroyed due to deforestation as well. Environmentalists have been outspoken about their disapproval of Bolsonaro and his policies that promote illegal logging and development in the Amazon. 

Back in August Bolsonaro was called out for referring to official data and news reports regarding fires in the Amazon “a lie.” Back in 2019 the president was faced with a threat from 34 international investors who all threatened to divest from Brazilian companies unless Bolsonaro made a genuine effort to slow the destruction of the forest as well as the illegal fires and ranching. 

While his government did take steps to curb that destruction by periodically banning fires and allocating military personnel to control them, the new data shows the opposite. NGO Greenpeace is an environmental group that’s been documenting the destruction of the Amazon throughout the past year.

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NGO released photos from a flyover operation they completed in August. The images showed the southern portion of the forest located in Rondônia which included protected areas where commercial development and exploitation is prohibited, however, the images clearly showed the areas engulfed in flames and smoke. 

Back in September current president-elect Joe Biden even brought up the deforestation issue in the Amazon during a debate, claiming that the “rainforests in Brazil are being torn down but [he would] make sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion to say ‘here’s $20 billion, stop tearing down the forest and if you don’t, you are going to have significant economic consequences.’”

The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and is now an integral player in the fight against global climate change. When the rainforest is healthy and thriving, it’s able to pull billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and thus defend the planet from further climate destruction. 

It’s also a biodiversity hotspot and home to numerous species, and according to NGO South America’s Pantanal region has been hit by the worst wildfires in decades. The fires have now consumed over 28% of the area, meaning the area that is typically responsible for absorbing carbon dioxide and maintaining a healthy ecosystem for the forest is struggling for survival now.

Covid-19 Brazil

Brazil Reaches 2 Million Cases Of Covid-19, Death Toll Hits 76,000

Three months after the coronavirus pandemic reached Brazil the country is now reporting more than 1,000 Covid-19 related deaths every day. This past Thursday the federal health administration announced that Brazil has officially surpassed 2 million confirmed cases of the virus, and 76,000 citizens have died. 

Like in America, many healthcare experts are blaming this massive and consistent rise in case/death numbers on the denial of the virus’ severity from individuals in political power, especially Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has received major backlash throughout the past few months for undermining health experts’ warnings about the coronavirus, and not taking social distancing recommendations seriously; he also is currently battling Covid-19. 

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There’s also been a massive lack of coordination between healthcare industry workers and politicians throughout this pandemic in Brazil, which as we’ve seen from countries like New Zealand, is essential if they want to see a real decrease in case numbers. 

Many city and state governments within Brazil have also been called out multiple times for prematurely reopening businesses despite health experts recommendations to do the opposite. As of right now, an interim health minister, who according to media reports is untrained in the field, is now presiding over the pandemic response. 

Former health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta recently spoke with the Associated Press, where he compared the 7,000 Covid-19 related deaths that have occurred in Brazil throughout the past seven weeks to “several airplanes packed with Brazilians crashing every single day.” 

“People have become callous. When you say ‘yesterday there were 1,300 deaths’ people say ‘ok, then it didn’t go up. It was the same the day before too.’”

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Brazil’s case numbers make them the second most infected country in the world, right behind the US. Experts believe case numbers in both countries are likely a lot larger, but lack of testing facilities/results is skewing the data. Within the past two weeks alone 10 out of Brazil’s 26 states have seen massive increases in case numbers. 

Citizens have been struggling to balance working while protecting themselves, but continuing on in order to earn money, this is especially true for agriculture workers. 

“Until it knocks at your door, people are indifferent. Yesterday there were 1,300 deaths from COVID-19. Is that supposed to be few? People are saying that’s just the media. I hear that every day at work.”

Health experts predict that if Brazil continues to remain as open as it is now the death toll will reach 200,000 by November. Like in the US, the major difference that needs to happen is a complete overhaul of how the current administration has handled the virus. Healthcare experts need to have more control over the policies that are put into play, as they’re the ones seeing first hand how badly this virus is impacting different communities. 

In the meantime, it’s important that every citizen does their part as well by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing whenever in a public setting, and continuing to wash your hands/sanitize consistently.

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Pope Francis Makes Public Plea To Save The Amazon, And The Planet

Pope Francis has taken combating the climate crisis our planet is currently enduring into his own hands. Last week, on February 12th to be more specific, Francis released a 94-page exhortation document in which he passionately discussed the importance of protecting the Amazon Rainforest, the multitude of ecosystems it supports, and the indigenous people native to the forest who utilize its vast range of natural resources.  

The document is titled Dear Amazon, and comes as a response to the historic Vatican meeting that occurred in the fall of 2019 regarding the destruction of the Amazon during its extreme wildfire outbreaks. It also comes as a response to the massive increase in illegal logging, mining and other deforestation tactics in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Brazil, as well as a surge in murders amongst indigenous activists within the past year alone. 

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“If the care of people and the care of ecosystems are inseparable, this becomes especially important in places where the forest is not a resource to be exploited…When indigenous peoples remain on their land, they themselves care for it best. We are water, air, earth and life of the environment created by God. For this reason, we demand an end to the mistreatment and destruction of mother Earth. The land has blood, and it is bleeding; the multinationals have cut the veins of our mother Earth,” Francis wrote.

As previously mentioned, the exhortation comes partly as a response to a historic meeting at the Vatican in which, for the first time in history, hundreds of Catholic bishops, environmental activists, and indigenous leaders from nine South American countries came together to discuss preservation of the planet and its relationship to faith, and how both political and religious leaders of the world can join forces to protect what little natural land is left. 

The exhortation acts as a public response to an otherwise private three-week meeting period between the groups mentioned above. The “response” was divided into four sections by Francis; societal, cultural, ecclesial, and ecological, all of which were under the general titles of “dreams.” Scientists and conservationists alike have been warning about the catastrophic effects of climate change for decades. Unless true systematic change is implemented throughout the entire world, it’s nearly impossible to reverse the extensive damage that’s already been done.

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The Amazon Rainforest

Within the past year, the Amazon Rainforest has lost over 3,400 square miles of forest, which is roughly the size of seven New York Cities, and this is not the first time Pope Francis has expressed his discontent with our governments lack of conservation efforts. In 2015, the Vatican and Francis released an encyclical entitled Laudato Si, On Care For Our Common Home. An “encyclical,” is a Catholic teaching document that’s regarded as the “highest order possessing moral authority,” due to the fact that it comes from the Pope. 

In Laudato Si, Francis became a self-proclaimed advocate for environmental protection, and spoke out against the government; placing the blame for global warming on human activity, specifically mentioning “rampant consumerism and unbridled capitalism.” Since then, the Vatican has emphasized climate action as “morally imperative” in the same regard that it’s scientifically imperative for the survival of our planet. 

The progressive Pope’s outspoken attitude in regard to climate change has created a major divide amongst those who consider themselves “devoutly” faithful to both their religion and their government. However, most can agree that having a public figure, as major and influential as the Pope, speak out against any issue regarding injustice is major when it comes to reform. 

“Protecting rainforests is fundamentally an ethical issue, where care for creation and the realization of social justice for indigenous peoples and forest communities are part of one moral fabric. We are seeing that not only is the leadership of Pope Francis rallying Catholics to act, but [it is] also inspiring religious leaders from other faiths to protect rainforests around the world,” said Joe Corcoran, the UN project manager for the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative (IRI).

Francis is creating a merger of two different worlds through his outspokenness. We have all the facts when it comes to climate change and the action that’s needed to combat it, now it’s just a matter of direct and immediate change.


Where to Visit in 2020

Somehow we have made it not only to the end of another year but also to the end of another decade and many of us are starting to think of ways we can make our lives better in 2020.

If “travel more” is on your list of New Year’s resolutions then look no further as we have put together a list of some of the best places to visit during the next year.

Cape Town, South Africa

Located on the shores of Table Bay, Cape Town is a must for anyone wishing to visit an area that fully embraces everything that Africa believes in.

With a strong history – including Robben Island which is a short boat trip away and where former president Nelson Mandela was kept prisoner – as well as some fascinating culture, nature and of course, the amazing music and festivals.

However if shopping is more your thing there are plenty of markets around including at the Old Biscuit Mill and Green Market Square, where you can taste some of the local cuisine as well as pick up some souvenirs to remind you of your experience.

Cape Town also houses some of the funkiest food and accommodation venues with Long Street home to many bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels.

And if beaches are more your thing head towards one of their stunning beaches and take part in some water sports including surfing or even shark cage diving if you are really adventurous.

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Any of the Greek Islands

One of the most sought after locations of 2020 will be any of the 6,000 Greek islands, including the picturesque Santorini. The village of Oia is famous for its blue and white architecture which will be even more accessible during 2020 thanks to the local council’s plans to build more roads and parking.

Or why not book a boat tour and head out for a day on the Aegean sea, stopping at beaches along the way – such as Akrotiri and its famous red beach – and eat a magical dinner on board as the sun sets? We could think of worse ways to end the day.

If you are after a bit more of the party scene, book a two hour ferry and head across to Mykonos. Known around the world for its summer long party, dance clubs line the beaches – such as Paradise and Super Paradise – attracting world famous DJs to keep you partying all night.

Armação dos Búzios, Brazil

Thanks to a change in restrictions in June 2019, Americans no longer need a visa when heading to Brazil and we strongly recommend visiting the stunning beach resort of Armação dos Búzios.

Located to the east of Rio de Janeiro, this ‘higher end’ vacation spot is perfect for those looking for water sports and nightlife adventures.

If parades are more your thing you should head south west to Rio de Janeiro in February and witness one of the most exciting carnivals in the world. Full of amazing music, dancing and a host of other activities, the Rio carnival is definitely one not to be missed. And while you are there you should also take a look at the spectacular Sugarloaf Mountain.


Part of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia is fast becoming the “go to” place for adrenaline junkies thanks to its reputation for providing some record-breaking activities. Head to Planica and have a ride on the steepest declining zipline in the world, or if bungee jumping is more your thing why not visit Bridge Solkan and jump off the longest train bridge built of stone blocks? And for those of you who prefer water sports such as kayaking or rafting, Soča has crystal clear waters perfect for a day of water-based fun.

However, if you prefer a more relaxed break head towards one of the many spa resorts dotted around the country. As an area renowned for its healing mineral water, visitors flock to the region each year making Slovenia a must visit place for 2020.

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British Columbia, Canada

Just across the border in Canada you will find many areas of beauty however British Columbia has something for everyone.

With award winning wine regions, remote islands and vibrant cities – including Vancouver – there are also many outdoor activities to be found in this beautiful part of Canada, including some world class ski resorts.

However we strongly recommend visiting the capital. Located on Vancouver Island, Victoria is fast becoming a tourist attraction thanks to its stunning Victorian architecture and bright buildings as well as places such as Fisherman’s Wharf, the Inner Harbor, Hatley Castle and Butchart Gardens.

There are so many more places that you should visit around the world and these are just a few suggestions to get you started. As soon as you start exploring and seeing how beautiful our world is, you will not want to stop.


Greta Thunberg Delivers Impassioned Speech to World Leaders at U.N.

Just days after leading the largest climate protest in history and testifying before Congress about climate change, 16-year old activist Greta Thunberg delivered an impassioned, angry, and scathing speech directed at world leaders at the UN today. Thunberg, whose home country is Sweden, has captured the imagination of American youth for her emissions-free voyage by boat to the US, her outsider’s view of American society, which she observes as being characterized by excessive waste and denial of climate change, and for her blunt, impolite, and unapologetic manner of speaking. Despite her sudden rise in popularity and widespread admiration, Thunberg has urged adults not to celebrate her, instead shifting the focus towards the problem that has animated her protests. As her written testimony for Congress, Thunberg submitted the 2018 global warming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying “I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists.”

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Last night, Thunberg in cooperation with a team of activists, projected a message onto the side of the U.N. building in 30 languages in advance of today’s summit. The message, signed with Thunberg’s name, insisted that for the sake of humanity global economic and political systems would have to undergo rapid and drastic change, urging leaders to “wake up” and saying that “everything needs to change and it has to start today.”

Although she has drawn criticism from people who have claimed she is naive, Thunberg readily admits she is not an expert in climate science, but insists that scientists ought to be listened to, and that world leaders have failed to heed their warnings. During her speech today, Thunberg was unapologetic, as she excoriated world leaders for their failure to act and essentially accused them of robbing her and her generation of their future. “How dare you,” Thunberg said, seemingly fighting back tears, “you have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.” 

Thunberg warned that the consequences of continuing not to act would be remembered by her generation and generations to come.

In addition to castigating world leaders for their inaction on what she understands to be an urgent matter, Thunberg warned that the consequences of continuing not to act would be remembered by her generation and generations to come. “You are failing us, but young people are starting to understand your betrayal,” she said. “And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.” Thunberg also described the goals set by nearly every country in the world to reduce their carbon emissions as inadequate, noting that even if countries reach the targets set at the Paris Climate Accords, there is only a 50% chance that global warming will not exceed 1.5 degrees celsius. Also, Thunberg chided current strategies for dealing with climate change for relying on her generation to invent and deploy technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere, essentially leaving them with the burden of cleaning up their mess.

Alongside her emotional speech, which Thunberg delivered next to a panel of climate change experts, she and 15 other child plaintiffs filed a legal complaint against five countries, alleging that they violated a treaty protecting the rights of children by knowingly contributing to climate change. The complaint is addressed to Germany, Brazil, France, Argentina, and Turkey, five countries that have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and asserts that these countries had an obligation to “prevent the deadly and foreseeable consequences” of climate change, and have long had the opportunity to do so but chose not to. On her Twitter account, Thunberg urged media outlets to report not just on her contributions to climate change activism, but to report on the countless number of other child activists and victims of climate change. This lawsuit resembles one filed by young people in the United States against the federal government, arguing that the government has a responsibility to protect young people from climate change. The lawsuit is currently being deliberated by judges from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and its outcome could have drastic effects on environmental law in the United States.

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Superhero Gay Kiss Makes Front Page of Brazilian Newspaper, Regardless Of Mayor’s Opinion

(CNN)After Rio de Janeiro’s evangelical mayor tried to ban an illustration of two male superheroes kissing from a book fair, one of Brazil’s biggest newspapers decided to put it on their front page.”

Mayor Marcelo Crivella of Rio de Janeiro tried to pull Marvel’s “Vingadores: A Cruzada Das Crianças” (“Avengers: The Children’s Crusade”) from the shelves of Rio’s famous biennial book fair, due to the comic depicting two male superheroes, Wiccan and Hulkling, kissing. However, Crivella was a little late due to the comic completely selling out the first day of the fair due to its popularity, and unapologetic representation. 

The public outcry of Mayor Crivella, however, still felt like it warranted a public response, and The Folha De Sao Paulo newspaper was more than happy to take on that responsibility. 

Cover of Folha De S.Paulo

“The mission of professional journalism and newspapers like Folha is to be uncompromising with obscurantist attempts and to shed light on threats of censorship,” said Sérgio Dávila, the paper’s editorial director, on the cover seen to the left, published after Crivella’s initial statement. 

Crivella is a widely known conservative evangelical who is no stranger to being outspoken against the LGBT+ community. He’s stated in the past that he views them as a “terrible evil” that we need to “censor our children” from in order to prevent them from being exposed to “content not suitable for minors.” All actual quotes from the mayor himself.  

Fortunately for more open-minded and level headed citizens of Rio de Janeiro, the book fairs board of operations filed a preventive injunction with Rio de Janeiro’s Court of Justice the week of the fair. In a statement posted on Instagram, the organizers said the preventive injunction was intended to “ensure the full operation of the event and the right of exhibitors to market literary works on the most diverse themes — as foreseen by the Brazilian legislation,” according to CNN. 

The book fair then advertised itself as an event meant to share ideas and discuss topics including “happiness, science, motherhood, theater, trans literature, LGBTQA+ and more,” according to the Instagram post

The comic’s illustrator, Jim Cheung, who created the images back in 2010, also recently took to Instagram to discuss the controversy over his 10 year old project. 

“As an artist, my passion is to tell stories; stories of great heroism, compassion and love, with as authentic and diverse characters as possible. Characters that depict every walk of life and color, whether they be black or white, brown, yellow or green. The fact that this book, from almost a decade ago, is now being drawn into the spotlight by the mayor perhaps only highlights how out of touch he might be with the current times. The LGBTQ community is here to stay, and I have nothing but love and support for those who continue to struggle for validity and a voice to be heard.”

The controversy has opened up a conversation that’s been discussed for years now. Why are same sex couples deemed as “inappropriate” and “too mature of a concept” for children to understand but love between a man and woman isn’t? The answer is mainly systematic homophobia, but that’s a whole other article. The biennial book fair is a great example of an open and loving space intended for discussions regarding these issues. These types of spaces are growing and spreading and with that will come a lot more acceptance and understanding. The fact is, these are all simply heavy stigmas that the world still needs some help breaking. Luckily for Rio De Janeiro, its people are a lot more open-minded than the actual individuals running the country, which sounds oddly familiar…

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Fighting Fire With Fire: How Smoke From Fires In Africa Are Keeping The Amazon Alive

“There have been a total of 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, with more than half in the Amazon region. That’s more than an 80% increase compared with the same period last year. The Amazon is also often referred to as the planet’s lungs, producing 20% of the oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere”