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The short documentary “Tomorrow has come” shows how extreme events are changing people’s lives across the country.

For years Brazil’s weather has been the envy of the world. But now, from the Amazon to the Atlantic Forest, the poor Northeast to the wealthy South, Brazilians are beginning to understand what climate change feels like.

Long droughts, excessive rains, and uncontrolled fires are all becoming a normal part of life, according to Thais Lazzari’s documentary: “Tomorrow has come”.

Launched last December during the COP24 meeting in Katowice, the film follows the lives of six people across Brazil witnessing how extreme events are becoming increasingly common.

“The consequences of [global] warming are happening at this moment in Brazil, with hundreds of people going through the drama of losing their production, risking their lives to fight a fire in the forest, or losing their houses with the increase in extreme [weather] events”, said Pedro Lacerda, a spokesman for Engajamundo. His organisation is one of the seven organizations responsible for the film. Others include Greenpeace, Alana, Conectas, Article 19, Instituto Socioambiental and the Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil also supported the project.

Also featured is Maria Jose Pereira, who saw how a six-year drought destroyed her farm in Pernambuco, in North-east Brazil.

Another is Leonardo Cabral, an oyster farmer from Santa Catarina, which is more than three thousand kilometers south of Pereira’s farm. Since 2005, Cabral has been noticing that changes in seasonal winds are displacing the right time of the year to seed the oysters.

“If the producer is not watchful, and many of them are not, he can lose the whole harvest”, says Cabral in the documentary.

But the impacts of climate change go beyond food. Floods have become a nightmarishly common occurrence in many of Brazil’s growing megacities. This was on full display only last week when the iconic city of Rio was four feet underwater after record-breaking downfalls.

But last week’s floods were not the first in the region. Back in 2011, more than 500 people died across the state, in what was called “the biggest climate tragedy in the history of the country”.

Shop owner Gilberto Sader, who is featured in the documentary, was lucky enough to save his life, though his shop was destroyed and he was forced to get a loan to rebuild it.

“I say my loss wasn’t so big because I didn’t lose anyone in my family,” Sader says.

Along with the documentary, two scientific studies were published and are freely available (in Portuguese) through the film’s website. Signed by three prestigious Brazilian researchers, the studies review the current scientific literature on the importance of the Amazon forest for the global climate.

According to one of the studies, deforestation and greenhouse gases emissions have a direct impact on water availability. This is true not only in the local Amazon basin region, but also in distant parts of Brazil and Argentina. To overcome these issues, the authors highlight the need to change the current developmental model for the region.

“We want to show the importance of keeping the Amazon forest standing to curb global warming”, said Lacerda, from Engajamundo. “Brazil has a fundamental role in the global fight against climate change. We need to control deforestation immediately”.

In 2016, Brazil launched a National Plan to Adapt to Climate Change. However, one of the first moves of Bolsonaro after taking office has been to shut down the Secretary of Forests and Climate Change, whose role was to implement the plan. According to Ricardo Salles, Ministry of Environment, the secretary will be replaced by an advisory body sometime in the future.

Ignacio Amigo

About Ignacio Amigo