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Does the Amazon Now Have a Shot at Survival?

The Amazon rainforest, our scientists tell us, essentially works as our world’s lungs. If those Amazonian lungs ever stop breathing, so will we.

This simple relationship just may make Gustavo Petro, the newly elected progressive president of Colombia, one of our planet’s most significant heads of state. If he succeeds over the next four years, the Amazon has a shot at survival — and so do the rest of us.

Petro and his environmental activist running mate Francia Marquez have pledged to work with their fellow progressive Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the odds-on favorite to win Brazil’s presidential race this coming October, to save the Amazon rainforest. With leadership from Petro and Marquez, that effort may well succeed. Both these veteran activists deeply understand the core reality — economic inequality — that’s left the Amazon rainforest so catastrophically vulnerable.

Colombia currently rates as the world’s second-most unequal major nation by income, notes a World Bank report published this past fall. The only major nation more unequal than Colombia: Brazil.