Good things are happening! Deforestation in the world’s largest rainforest is slowing, a private equity firm misses out on public pension money, a creative veto in Wisconsin helps out schools, video game workers continue to organize, green jobs training takes effect, and more.

Lula Saves The Trees

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest dropped 34 percent in the first six months of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s term, reversing a four-year clearcutting trend.

With 60 percent of the Amazon located in Brazil, the country’s environmental governance has far-reaching implications. The Amazon rainforest is one of the largest carbon sinks in the world, storing an estimated 123 billion tons of carbon, so its protection is critical worldwide. Da Silva, a popular leftist with a track record of advocating for social welfare, pledged to reverse deforestation, and so far it seems like he’s making good on his promise.

Deforestation in the Amazon has been linked to drought and declining rainfall as well as changes in ocean diversity and global ocean currents, which regulate weather. The loss of the Amazon could warm the entire globe by 0.25 degrees Celsius.

Former Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro gutted environmental protections and encouraged mining and ranching in the Amazon, paving the way for heightened deforestation: In 2021, Brazil recorded its highest annual rate of deforestation in 15 years, losing 5,100 square miles of rainforest.

Since Da Silva became president in January 2023, his administration has increased surveillance and enforcement of environmental laws. Though personnel shortages and the upcoming dry season pose challenges, the administration has made significant progress — which bodes well for the future of the Amazon, and the planet.

Public School Pension Punts Private Equity

A New York based venture capital firm pulled out of a $130 million contract with Pennsylvania’s public school pension system, following scrutiny from public officials. The move is part of a battle to protect workers’ retirement savings from Wall Street. In recent decades, a private equity-led scheme has funneled hundreds of millions in public employees’ retirement dollars into billionaires’ pockets and funds profiteering and into projects that don’t benefit workers.