Brazil loses one of its best friends with the death of Tom Lovejoy

With the death of Tom Lovejoy, Brazil loses one of its best friends. Over 16 years, much of his life was dedicated to researching and defending the Brazilian Amazon, for which he became a prominent world spokesman.

For decades, he took personalities from the USA and other countries to his research post in the forest on excursions that included the New Year’s Eve. In Washington, being invited to one of them was considered an honor among celebrities.

For many of them, such as Al Gore, then a senator, later American vice president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, the experience was like an epiphany. Great journalists, film actors, politicians, authorities and diplomats reworked their ideas about the environment after these visits promoted by Lovejoy.

In his home of the century 14 in Virginia, near Washington, held meetings with politicians, environmentalists, Brazilian and American academics to discuss the direction of Brazil, especially in the field of ecology.

Respected as a of the most important scientists in the field of biology (in 2012 he received the Blue Planet award, considered equivalent to the Nobel in the field of the environment), he coined the concept of biodiversity and was one of the first to defend the idea of ​​using carbon credits to protect forests.

As relevant (or more) than his academic work, was what he did as a promoter of the conservationist cause. For 14 years in the 90 and 90 decades, it helped to transform the World Wildlife Fund into one of the most important entities of its kind in the world.

He was advisor on environmental issues to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush and Bill Clinton, and informally advised Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden. He was one of the creators of the series of programs “Nature” on American public television, he collaborated with the National Geographic magazine.

Worked at the World Bank, at the Inter-American Development Bank, at the United Nations Foundation, always to help these institutions to make decisions about environmental issues.

It was as present in academic publications as in those of general interest. In Brazil, the publication in which the most articles were edited was this Folha (the last one, entitled “Reflorestar a Amazônia”, co-authored with André Guimarães, director of Ipam, was published in 16 from last September).

His most recent outstanding scientific article was also written in partnership with a Brazilian, Carlos Nobre, of Inpa, in the magazine “Science Advances”, in February 2018, under the title “Amazon Tipping Point”, and it contains a warning that deforestation in the Amazon is close to reaching the point of I will not return if drastic and urgent measures are not taken to stop him.

In August of this year, Lovejoy informed friends that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but that according to his oncologist it was a kind that it could be treated with hormones and that he still had “many years to go”.

“I’m fine, with 80% of my energy normal and busy as usual,” he said at the end of the message. In fact, it produced a lot in the following months. He finished an as-yet-unpublished book (“Ever Green: Saving Big Forests to Save the Planet”), with John Reid, an economist at the Nia Tero, which helps indigenous groups protect and sustainably exploit their territories.”

On November 2, the “New York Times” featured an article by Lovejoy and Reid entitled “The Road to Climate Recovery Goes Through the Wild Woods”.

Lovejoy died on Christmas Day, at 80 years old, in Washington.

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