In Issue 12 of The Chakrubs Current, we provide an update on the protests at Mauna Kea, information and resources about the devastating fires in the Amazon rainforest, and ongoing coverage regarding the ICE raids across America, along with self-care tips to help you stay afloat.
Update: Mauna Kea
The protests on Mauna Kea have been ongoing for more than a month. Here’s the update since we last shared news on Native Hawaiians fight to protect their sacred land, which happens to be the tallest mountain in the world when measuring from the base to the summit and the planned site for a thirty-meter telescope (TMT).
- Hawaii County police have increased their ticketing of vehicles parked or traveling near the Mauna Kea protest sight and have issued 100 citations per day since late last week. Protest leaders say that local law enforcement posted signs on Monday prohibiting parking, stopping, standing, loading or unloading for 3,000 feet in each direction from the access road intersection. They believe that the recent enforcement is meant to discourage opposition. (Hawaii News Now)
- In a statement published on August 9, representatives from the observatories said that they would soon resume operations.
- Hawaiian Senator recently traveled to Mauna Kea to speak with protestors and afterwards expressed her support for them, saying, “Civil disobedience is a great legacy. You folks have every right to civil disobedience, to do what you are doing.”
- Other Hawaiian celebrities have shown support for protests at Mauna Kea, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Nicole Scherzinger, and college football player Alohi Gilman.
Current: Amazon Rainforest Fires
New data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) shows that the Amazon rainforests are burning at a record rate. The agency has detected more than 74,000 fires between January and August — 80% higher than last year and the highest number of fires since they began keeping records in 2013. Here’s what we know so far:
- INPE has observed more than 9,500 forest fires since last Thursday, primarily in the Amazon region. Satellite images show the northern state of Roraima swallowed by black smoke. The neighboring state of Amazonas has declared an emergency in response to the fires. (BBC)
- Neighboring Bolivia has also been experiencing intense wildfires that have so far burnt 500,000 hectares of forest. Bolivian authorities warned this week that 70% of the department of Santa Cruz, where more than a quarter of the country’s population lives, is under “extreme risk” from forest fires. (Euronews)
- The Amazon is often called the planet’s lungs as it produces 20% of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is vital in slowing global warming and home to a million Indigenous people as well as three millions of species of fauna and flora. Roughly half the size of the United States, it is the largest rainforest on the planet. (WWF)
- Wildfires have increased in Mato Grosso and Para, two states where Brazil’s agricultural development has overflowed into the Amazon basin and led to deforestation. Wildfires are common in the dry months of July and August, but are also deliberately set by farmers illegally deforesting land for cattle ranching. (Reuters)
- According to a senior scientist with INPE, roughly 99% percent of the fires result from human actions “either on purpose or by accident.” (CNN)
- The skies darkened over San Paulo, Brazil, for an hour Monday afternoon after winds carried smoke from about 1,700 miles away.
- Conservationists blame Brazilian President Jair Bosonaro, who recently fired the head of INPE after the director published data that showed an 88% increase in deforestation in the Amazon compared to June 2018. Bosonaro is criticized for reversing environmental protections and encouraging deforestation.
- During Bolsonaro’s presidential campaign, he promised to restore the nation’s economy by exploring the Amazon’s economic potential. He dismissed INPE’s data, saying it was the “season of the queimada,” when farmers use fire to clear land. Brazil’s environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, tweeted on Wednesday that the fires were caused by dry weather, wind, and heat.
- The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned that if conditions in the Amazon don’t improve, the rainforest could become a dry savannah and would become inhabitable for much of its wildlife. If that happens, it would start emitting carbon — the primary cause of climate change — instead of being a source of oxygen.
If you want to help protect the Amazon rainforest, here are some actions you can take:
- Be mindful of photos you share on social media that claim to depict the fires in the Amazon. Many of the photos in circulation are not accurate and being falsely attributed to the Amazon rainforest fires.
- Donate to Rainforest Action Network to protect an acre of the Amazonian rainforest.
- Donate to the Rainforest Trust to help buy land in the rainforest. Since 1988, the organization has saved over 23 million acres and counting.
- Reduce your paper and wood consumption. Double-check with Rainforest Alliance that what you’re buying is rainforest-safe. You can also purchase rainforest safe products here.
- Donate to the World Wide Fund for Nature, which works to protect the countless species in the Amazon and around the world.
- Reduce your beef consumption. Rainforest beef is typically found in fast-food hamburgers or processed beef products.
- Explore Change.org petitions. A lawyer in Rio Branco has accumulated over 77,000 of his 150,000 signature goal to mobilize an investigation into the Amazonian fires.
- Donate to Amazon Watch, an organization that protects the rainforest, defends indigenous rights and works to address climate change.
- Donate to the Amazon Conservation Team which works to fight climate change, protect the Amazon and empower indigenous peoples.
- Amazon Conservation accepts donations (which can be tax-deductible) and lists exactly what your money goes towards. You can help plant trees, sponsor education, protect habitats, buy a solar panel, preserve indigenous lands and more.
Ongoing: ICE Raids
We have been providing ongoing coverage of the migrant crisis at U.S. Mexico borders and at detention camps, but for this issue, we wanted to focus on the ongoing ICE raids that are occurring throughout America.
- The largest single-state raid in history took place in Mississippi on Wednesday, August 7th, when hundreds of ICE agents showed up at Peco Foods, Koch Foods, PH Food and Pearl River Foods poultry plants and arrested 680 workers. Of those, about 300 were released the same day, officials said. Those who remain in detention are being held in an ICE facility in Louisiana. (USA Today)
- As for the companies, no fines or arrests have taken place, despite information in federal search warrant affidavits suggesting company officials knew their workers were undocumented. (AP)
- The Mississippi raids occurred just days after a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas that claimed 22 lives. The gunman told authorities that he was purposely targeting Mexicans. News outlets reported that they suspect others were injured, but have avoided necessary medical care for fear of being deported. (Vox)
- On Wednesday, August 21, the Trump administration unveiled a sweeping plan that could render the Flores Agreement obsolete. The Flores Agreement is a 1997 settlement that prevents the government from detaining immigrant families with children for more than 20 days. (CBS News)
- Under the administration’s new rule, which will be published in the Federal Register Friday and would go into effect 60 days later, there would not be a limit to the number of days families with children could be detained. Immigration attorneys are hopeful that the judge overseeing the Flores litigation will reject the new plan. (CBS News)
What Can I Do
Boycott the tech companies that help fund ICE and the Trump administration:
This article is a handy guide regarding the rights of restaurant owners who get raided by ICE (specific to California).
All of these issues are very personal, highlighting the different ways that our lands, fellow human beings, and even the air we breathe, are under threat. It can be tempting to distance ourselves out of preservation or a perceived helplessness. Combat this by being proactive in your self-care. Affirm that these are intense times and grant yourself permission to rest or unplug in whatever ways you need. If you’re stretching yourself thin at work, overcrowding your social calendar, and/or neglecting your body’s needs, then of course you’re not going to be in a position to thoughtfully consume news and act on it. Now more than ever it’s important to be intentional about what you’re giving your attention to and honoring the boundaries that allow you to operate at full capacity.