Geodesign 2B - Brazil - Sustainable Development and Resilient Systems – Why and How Our World Has Changed

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Presentation Date: 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Brazil

Brazil has the largest acreage of rainforest coverage in the world. The main source of carbon emissions in Brazil is deforestation (35%). Agriculture follows as a close second (29%) with the transportation system following as a distant third (14%). With ever mounting data pointing toward a correlation between increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and regional shifts in rainfall, Brazil has experienced severe drought in its most populated areas. However, the problem is not uniform across all of Brazil. Some regions are without strategy or infrastructure to deal with heavy rainfall and are particularly vulnerable. Not only has climate change impacted the Brazilian environment, but its economy and production of electricity have also been negatively affected.

Brazil has recently adopted biofuels (biodiesel and bioethanol) in the transportation sector to decrease CO2 emissions. Plant-based fuels burn “modern carbon” as opposed to the “ancient carbon” present in petroleum. Utilizing ancient carbon is uniquely harmful because it reintroduces carbon that went out of atmospheric circulation several geological eras ago. In contrast, biofuel reduces climate impacts by minimizing the net increase of carbon in circulation. There are two main types of biofuel: biodiesel made from soy and bioethanol from sugarcane. Biofuel was popularized during the Oil Crisis of 1973 when gasoline prices skyrocketed. Today, flex-fuel vehicles that allow the use of gasoline and biofuel currently make up 70% of the Brazilian automotive fleet; this includes public transit vehicles. Although there has been significant progress, the transportation sector accounts for a majority of fossil fuel consumption and remains in need of reform.