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The election that will decide the planet’s fate

The Amazon rainforest: crunch time. Getty

This Sunday is “the most important day for planet Earth, and your survival” on it, says The New York Times. It’s the day Brazilians elect their next president. And their choice couldn’t be starker: one candidate wants to save the Amazon, and one wants to burn it down. The incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, has become a favourite of agribusiness magnates by effectively legalising deforestation. He has introduced laws allowing criminals to keep land that they illegally clear, and scrapped funding for the country’s environmental agency. As a result, 98% of unlawful deforestation isn’t even investigated. Last year, 18 trees were hacked down every second, laying waste to an area larger than Northern Ireland.

Bolsonaro’s rival, Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, previously served as president between 2003 and 2010, and during his premiership he launched an “aggressive plan” to save the Amazon. He created conservation areas bigger than the UK and fined businessmen billions for illegal deforestation – policies he has pledged to reinstate. Global survival “literally depends on” Lula’s success. The forest has 390 billion trees – double that of the US – and without them absorbing CO2, “basically we’re cooked”. The outcome of this election could decide the future of not only the rainforest, but also “human civilisation”.