As I heard the alarming news that the British journalist Dom Phillips and the Brazilian Indigenous expert Bruno Araújo Pereira went missing in a remote area of the Amazon rainforest last Monday, I immediately reopened the WhatsApp message Dom had sent me just three weeks ago. We had been in communication since Fall 2019, when Princeton University’s Brazil LAB hosted a conference exploring a new vision to safeguard Amazonia for Brazil and the planet. In the past fifty years, 20% of the Brazilian rainforest has already been lost to illegal logging, cattle ranching, and wildfires. Dom was intrigued by the innovative climate model that my colleagues Stephen Pacala and Elena Shevliakova had developed, simulating what would happen to the world’s climate by 2050 if the Amazon were to be deforested.
In this dire scenario, eliminating the rainforest would make the region’s temperature get up to 4.5 degrees
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