Abstract: Brazil’s Refusal to Place its Environment Above its Economy

Deforestation is a substantial issue in today’s world due to its ability to significantly increase the emission of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere, which has a direct relationship to Global Warming. The cutting down of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest has occurred for well over a hundred years without any serious ramifications, however, its rate of occurrence began to increase exponentially in the 70’s. Brazilian scientists began to notice the severe environmental consequences of this by the late 1980’s, but decreases in deforestation rates in Brazil was not seen for another 15 years. The cause of this environmental catastrophe was the importance of agriculture, and pasturing within Brazil’s economy over their environmental consequences in the eyes of the Brazilian Government. Environmental activists began to gain popularity with the turn of the 21st Century, which lead to the implementation of new environmental policies in an attempt to decrease deforestation rates. Yet, Brazil’s government failed to enforce its new policies properly, resulting in a failure to decrease the rate of deforestation until 2005, when enforcement was finally provided. However, current deforestation rates remain near a clearing of 25 million acres of rainforest annually. Additionally, within the last decade, the Brazilian Government created a new demand for hydrologic power, resulting in the placement of nearly 700 dams throughout Brazil, most of which in the Amazon Basin. Dams are also harmful to the environment because they split rivers into individually flowing sections. This decreases the overall biodiversity in a river and blocks the migratory routes of fish to their breeding grounds. Furthermore, It not only negatively effects the rivers but the surrounding ecosystem as well. The current Brazilian Government has failed to implement and enforce any effective policies against the construction of dams in the Brazilian Amazon Basin.  The failure of Brazil to stop deforestation and the construction of dams reveals its struggle to view its environmental issues above its economic issues.


Primary Sources

Wiebelt, Manfred. “Stopping Deforestation in the Amazon: Trade-off between Ecological and Economic Targets?” Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv, vol. 131, no. 3, 1995, pp. 542–68.

This study provides great background information on deforestation’s effect on global warming, which I will use to portray the importance of stopping Brazil’s deforestation. Additionally, it compares the ecological and economic issues within Brazil’s Environmental Policy in the 90’s, when deforestation in Brazil was at its peak.


Holden, Constance. “Deforestation: Brazil’s Surprise Role.” Science, vol. 247, no. 4938, 1990, pp. 24–24.

This article is significant to my research in that it shows at what point in time Brazil’s science community began to take initiative in providing evidence for the deforestation occurring in Brazil. In the short section of this newspaper-looking article, the author makes an argument that the increased interest in forecasting deforestation in Brazil and around the world is due to its severity in Brazil. He also talks about Brazil’s involvement in joining up with Italy to create the first-ever global assessment of deforestation.


Secondary Sources

Romig, Bradley S. “Agriculture in Brazil and Its Effect on Deforestation and the Landless Movement: A Government’s Attempt to Balance Agricultural Success and Social Collateral Damage Note.” Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, vol. 11, 2006, pp. 81–106.

This Study looks at the effects of strong agricultural and pasturing forces in Brazil on social and political issues. The author provides political movements within Brazil that he argues as responsible for the ineffective environmental policies put in place. Though he doesn’t focus on them, he points out the effective environmental policies put in place as well. This will allow me to make comparisons between effective and ineffective environmental policy in Brazil.


Arima, Eugenio Y., et al. “Public Policies Can Reduce Tropical Deforestation: Lessons and Challenges from Brazil.” Land Use Policy, vol. 41, Nov. 2014, pp. 465–73. ScienceDirect, doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2014.06.026.

This Study observes the effectiveness of increased environmental enforcement by comparing two separate communities within Brazil with different amounts of enforcement. I will use the success of this community in Brazil to decrease deforestation with increased conservational enforcement as evidence that improved environmental policy in Brazil will be effective in stopping deforestation of the Amazon Rain Forest.


Agostinho, A. A., et al. “Dams and the Fish Fauna of the Neotropical Region: Impacts and Management Related to Diversity and Fisheries.” Brazilian Journal of Biology, vol. 68, no. 4, Nov. 2008, pp. 1119–32. SciELO, doi:10.1590/S1519-69842008000500019.

This article talks about the high amounts of dams that have been put in place within the Brazilian Amazon Rain Forest basin, and how it negatively affects the health of the rivers they are placed on, as well as the surrounding ecosystems. I will use this in my argument of the environmental degradation that dams cause.


Stickler, Claudia M., et al. “Dependence of Hydropower Energy Generation on Forests in the Amazon Basin at Local and Regional Scales.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 110, no. 23, 2013, pp. 9601–06.

This article also talks about the harmful effects of dams on their surrounding environments, however, it has a focus on the increase of dams in Brazil, and the causes behind it. The author argues that the increase in dams is due to the rise in demand for hydraulic power in Brazil. This will support my argument that Brazil’s government views the country’s economic issues as more important than its conservational issues.


Hochstetler, Kathryn, and Margaret E. Keck. Greening Brazil: Environmental activism in state and society. Duke University Press, 2007.

This article cover’s similar issues of deforestation, and environmental policy issues within Brazil as some of the other sources include, however, I am incorporating it due to the very high amount of times it has been cited from. Indicating that it is a great tool for checking the accuracy of some of my other sources. It also differs from my others sources in that it has a large focus on the increase in environmental activism in Brazil.


Fearnside, Philip M. “Deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia: History, Rates, and Consequences.” Conservation Biology, vol. 19, no. 3, June 2005, pp. 680–88. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00697.x.

This article focuses on the deforestation rates, and the consequences they have had on the Amazon. It separates itself from some of my other sources in that it talks about the harm that deforestation causes to its surrounding ecosystems, instead of the planet as a whole, due to global warming. I will use this to add to my argument that deforestation is harmful to the environment at both small and large scales. It also compares the rates of deforestation up to 2005, which will help me observe when Brazil’s environmental policies became effective.



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