Amazon fires: why ecocide must be recognised as an international crime | Letters

Simon Surtees says the burning Brazilian forest is redolent of the plot of Lord of the Flies; Stefan Simanowitz writes that it’s time ecocide joined genocide as a named crime; while John Charlton despairs at the race in aviation to fly longer and faster

Eliane Brum’s passionate attack on the Amazon clearances is well made (In the burning Amazon, all our futures are now at stake, 23 August). In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the war between Ralph and Jack leads to the burning of the jungle. The boys are rescued by a naval crew attracted by the smoke and flames. But it is worth noting that Golding had to be persuaded by his editor to change the ending, which was considered a bit bleak for the 1950s, when it was written. He would have been quite happy for readers to take in the consequences of their selfishness and stupidity; the destruction of the place where they live. How he must be chuckling now.
Simon Surtees
London

• In 1944, Winston Churchill described German atrocities in Russia as “a crime without a name”. Later that year, the term “genocide” was coined. Today the Amazon rainforest – the lungs of the world – is ablaze, with thousands of fires deliberately lit by land-grabbers keen to clear the forest for logging, farming and mining. This destruction, which has increased massively since Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s deregulated deforestation, threatens an area that is home to about 3 million species of plants and animals and 1 million indigenous people.

In order to stop such wanton destruction in Brazil and around the world, it is surely time to recognise ecocide – destruction of the environment or ecosystem – as an international crime. It should not be necessary to name something for it to become real but, as with genocide, a word can help encompass the enormity of a horror that might otherwise be too great to imagine.
Stefan Simanowitz
London

• There’s a touch of Nero and fiddles in your article (Chicken or beef? Enjoy both on longest nonstop flight, 19 hours Sydney to London, 23 August). The celebration of super technology getting us to Australia hours faster seems deeply misplaced against the background of doom that almost all sane people believe awaits the human stay on planet Earth. Qantas’s chief executive Alan Joyce calls it, without irony, “truly the final frontier in aviation”. The article’s previous point gives the game away: “successful test flights would fire the starting gun on a race between the Boeing and its European rival, Airbus, to sell Qantas their new ultra-long-range aircraft”. It’s about naked competition – the central drive of capitalism which has taken us to the cliff edge. Finding a way collectively to ground the whole system is our only hope of survival.
John Charlton
Newcastle upon Tyne

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