Dividends and the burning of the Amazon

In late August, the leaders of the G7 met in France and just before they met, something interesting happened. European leaders looked at the fires in Brazil’s Amazon forest and told the Brazilian President if you do not put out the fires we will not sign a trade agreement with you and we will curtail trade into the European Community which is 300 million people.

The backstory is Brazil has a new President who seems not to understand the Amazon rainforest has on the world’s environment. President Jair Bolsonaro believes the more clearing of the rainforest, the better and the easiest method to clear is by fire. At the fires, large cattle ranches and farms can plant crops. As the fires increased, the President blamed the increased fires on natural cases, then he blamed the environmental groups in Brazil and all the while according to Lisandra Paraguassu and Jamie McGeever of Reuters, the President sent to the media all the things the Brazilian government is doing to being good stewards of the environment. It is important to note the farmers who set most of the fires had a tacit encouragement from the President as he repeated said the Amazon should be exploited for minerals, agriculture and logging. The President said the government was taking care of its problems and could fix them.

The European leaders examined NASA pictures, the satellites go around the world and take pictures of the planet and told the President do something more, some countries offered equipment to help fight the fires. The President called in the army and allocated water bombers to put out most of the fires, likely against his better judgement, but maybe he learns.

Linking to dividend paying stocks, cameras are everywhere including in the sky, there is no hiding and companies and countries need to start clean rather than with lies defending their actions. In this case the leaders of the European community told another country what it can or cannot do; in the Wall Street Journal there is story about the growing sense of evaluating leaders on sustainability as well as profitability. The Business Roundtable of the US said companies are not just for shareholders but stakeholders. Sometimes the public gets ahead of companies, if your investments need public acceptance to buy, then if the company is not in the space, they need to move towards it very soon.

There are more questions than answers, till the next time – to raising questions.

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