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Captain Chainsaw is burning the Amazon, and the rest of the world is cheering him on.

An Opinion Piece by Doug Specht, published by Diplomatist

“Captain Chainsaw”, this is the strangely affectionate nick-name given to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. While in some parts of the world such a name might be given as an insult, in Brazil it is a celebration of Bolsonaro’s economic policies and exploitation of natural resources as a way of boosting the faltering economy. These policies were brought to the attention of the world in August as fires blazed across the Amazon region, blacking out the sky in Sao Paolo, over 1,500 miles away, stirring international outcry. It quickly became clear that many of the fires were started deliberately, but while there is a presently a ban on starting new fires, many continue to rage, with over 121,000 being reported in 2019 up to mid-September, an increase of over 50% on previous years. The fires themselves have already fallen out of the headlines, but the political and economic policies of Brazil and the rest of the world remain, and without an examination of these, we will see further destruction of the Amazon and other resources vital to human existence.


Read on below, or download the pdf of this article.





Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash



Doug Specht


Dr Doug Specht is a cultural geographer and educationalist. His research explores themes related to environmental justice, human rights, and access to education, with a focus on the production and codification of knowledge though cartographic artefacts and in educational settings. In recognition of his work, he has been appointed as a Chartered Geographer and Chartered Teacher. In addition, he has been awarded Advanced Teacher Status, alongside being a Senior Fellow of AdvanceHE. Dr. Specht has authored numerous articles and books, including Mapping Crisis, the Routledge Handbook of Geospatial Technology and Society, the Media and Communications Student Study Guide and Imagining Apocalyptic Politics in the Anthropocene. He writes regularly on ethics, environmental and human rights, education, and mapping practices in such publications as WonkHE, The Conversation, Geographical, and for Times Higher Education. Dr Specht is a member of the editorial board of the European Journal of Geography, Westminster papers in Communication and Culture, and Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman. He is Chair of the Environmental Network for Central America.


14 October 2019
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