International RelationsThe Environment

Amazon Rainforest on Fire

Posted on in International Relations · The Environment

The Amazon rainforest is in a state of crisis. Deforestation has increased, along with the number and intensity of wildfires throughout the world’s largest rainforest. In April 2019, the Waorani Tribe of Equador won a landmark environmental protection case against a major oil company, setting legal precedent preserving indigenous land in the Amazon from deforestation efforts.

Instructors, click the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt and a debate question as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Amazon Rainforest on Fire


“The Amazon in Brazil is on fire – how bad is it?”

“SOS From Brazil’s Amazon Fire Protesters: ‘We Need The World’s Help Right Now’”

“Brazil has seen 100,000 fire alerts in ten days, but its not just the Amazon – one map shows how much of South America is burning”

“Jair Bolsonaro claims NGOs behind Amazon forest fire surge – but provides no evidence”

“Iran nuclear deal: Key details”

“G-7 pledges funds to fight Amazon fires”

“Amazon fires: Brazil to reject G7 aid after Bolsonaro rages at ‘colonist’ leaders”


  • Writing: Many environmentalists and government officials have called the Amazon “the lungs of the planet”. The vast number of trees effectively trap and convert carbon into oxygen, reducing the effects of global climate change. From an IR perspective, the Amazon rainforest can be considered a public good (a public resource that is non-excludable and non-rivalrous).  To what extent is the Amazon rainforest a public good? 
  • Debate: Is Brazil within its right to reject international aid donated to combat Amazon forest fires?
  • Poll: Which should receive a higher priority: protecting a forest from logging companies, or allowing the forest to be cut down in order to provide local jobs and to stimulate economic growth?
  • Short Answer: Describe the international reaction to this environmental catastrophe. Is the response appropriate? Is it proportionate?

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