Elections have consequences. In the case of Brazil, those consequences could have a greater global impact than people originally bargained for. Populist President Jair Bolsonaro, who "has been fined personally for violating environmental regulations," is sticking to his promise to curb enforcement against deforestation of the Amazon, saying limiting access to the world's largest rainforest (roughly the size of the forty-eight contiguous United States) would hinder economic growth.
Protecting the Amazon was at the heart of Brazil’s environmental policy for much of the past two decades. At one point, Brazil’s success in slowing the deforestation rate made it an international example of conservation and the effort to fight climate change.
The two trends — the increase in deforestation and the government’s increasing reluctance to confront illegal activity — is alarming researchers, environmentalists and former officials who contend that Mr. Bolsonaro’s tenure could lead to staggering losses of one of the world’s most important resources.
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