Many rounds of blame-shifting have occurred as people have been trying to determine the cause for the large amounts of oil that have washed up along Brazil’s coastline at the end of August 2019. From analyzing oil samples, the origin of the oil was found to be from Venezuela. Though it is important to determine where the source of it comes from, dealing with the consequences are more urgent in order to restore and protect the damaged habitats and organisms. However, the response of the Brazilian government was delayed and they don’t seem to be putting enough effort to deal with the urgent environmental crises that are occurring in their country.
More than 4000 tonnes of crude oil have appeared on approximately 250 beaches in Brazil; one of Brazil’s largest environmental disasters in history. The contamination first began at the northeast coast and then continued southward reaching marine protected areas, including Abrolhos National Park which is the most biodiverse region in the South Atlantic. Entire mangrove and rocky shore ecosystems have been affected and endemic species, such as the Brazilian brain coral and blue parrotfish, are threatened.
Fortunately, the locals have been quick to respond and with the help of many volunteers, approximately 2,000 tonnes of oil was removed by November. On the other hand, the Brazilian government was not so quick to address the issue; it was not until October that they deployed 5,000 troops to help in the clean-up.
Even with the help of volunteers and troops to clean up the contamination, the livelihoods of local fishers after the spill have been devastated. Not only is there a great reduction in the amount they are able to catch, but businesses and restaurants are not willing to buy from locals anymore because of the contamination. Researchers have only started to take live organisms to analyze their consumption safety so they are unable to make any conclusions yet. In order to support these fishers, the Brazilian government has promised to provide 60,000 fishers that abide to certain requirements with a monthly stipend but this still leaves about 130,000 fishers struggling.
Evidently, the Brazilian government has made some effort in dealing with the consequences of this problem by even deploying troops and giving stipends but I believe more could be done. Despite experiencing such a devastating year of heavy amazon fires and oil spill damage and still having to deal with the consequences, Brazil has recently committed to opening a new Antarctic research base that costs $100 million paid by the Ministry of Defense. Though I agree that research about Antarctic biodiversity and the general continent’s connections to South America would be very interesting and also helpful to understand in light of climate change, the biodiversity and habitats of Brazil are in dire conditions and need to be addressed now.
Escobar, H. (2019, November 4). Mysterious oil spill threatens marine biodiversity haven in Brazil. Science. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/11/mysterious-oil-spill-threatens-marine-biodiversity-haven-brazil
Escobar, H. (2020, January 13). Brazil opens ‘spectacular’ Antarctic research base, but will it have the cash to fulfill its potential? Science. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/01/brazil-opens-spectacular-new-research-base-antarctica
Jeantet, D., & Biller, D. (2019, October 27). Brazil oil spill leaves local fishermen in the lurch. Phys. Retrieved from: https://phys.org/news/2019-10-brazil-oil-local-fishermen-lurch.html
Menezes, E., & Brooks, M. (2019, November 29). What Canada can learn the devastating oil spill in Brazil. World Wide Fund. Retrieved from: https://blog.wwf.ca/blog/2019/11/29/canada-can-learn-devastating-oil-spill-brazil-2/
Reality Check Team. (2019, November 1). Brazil oil spill: Where has it come from? British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-50223106