2020-2021 Virtual Geography Speaker Series

Monday, April 5, 2021

4:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.

Virtual (Zoom)

Robert T. Walker, Professor
Department of Latin American Studies & Department of Geography, University of Florida
Avoiding Amazonian Catastrophes in the 21st Century
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A new threat now confronts the Amazon Forest in the form of a massive infrastructure program, the Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America, or IIRSA. This presentation details the results of a projection analysis showing that IIRSA could push the Amazonian forest past a ‘‘tipping point,’’ replacing it with tropical savanna, or some form of degraded, secondary vegetation. In addition to the threat of infrastructure, recent research on regional climate change in the Basin suggests that a tipping point could be reached before the end of the century, even without a new wave of deforestation. Such a catastrophe would precipitate significant environmental impacts, with reductions in biodiversity and carbon sequestration potential. It would also endanger the water security of millions of people throughout the South American continent, dependent on moisture transport from the Amazon Basin for agriculture and consumptive use. Environmental policy in Brazil reduced deforestation at the turn of the millennium, raising hopes that the Amazonian Forest had been conserved at last. However, eroding environmental governance throughout the Basin and difficulties in implementing global action on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions have once again raised the specter of an environmental catastrophe in the form of a tipping point transgression. Very little now stands in the way of rapid development of the Basin except for Amazonia’s indigenous peoples, who are willing to defend their territories in the face of powerful forces that would otherwise appropriate them. At the moment, the Munduruku People of the Tapajós River Valley have managed to protect their territorial environments despite the Brazilian government’s strong desire to dam the river and channelize it, turning one of the world’s most spectacular rivers into the “Mississippi of Brazil.” Sponsored by Geography and Latin American Studies

Contact: kigin@macalester.edu

Website: https://www.macalester.edu/geography/2020-2021-speaker-series/

This event is for: Alumni, Faculty, Parents and Families, Public, Staff, Students

Admission: NA

Sponsored by: Geography

Listed under: Front Page Events, Lectures and Speakers

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