lungs of the worldAs the clock runs out on the world’s opportunity to mitigate the climate crisis, the new president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, is poised to continue the destruction of the “lungs of the world,” the Amazon Rain Forest. He thinks the environmentalists in his own government have been lying about the importance of the Amazon to oxygen production and carbon sequestration. He ran and won on a populist platform of “Brazil First.” Bolsonaro argues that Brazil’s economy has been held back because of restrictions on the development of the Amazon. He accuses other nations of wanting to develop the Amazon for themselves. He says the Amazon is in “our country” and nobody can dictate to Brazil what to do with it.

Eight former Brazilian environmental ministers wrote in a joint letter in May, “We’re facing the risk of runaway deforestation in the Amazon,” arguing that Brazil needed to strengthen its environmental protection measures, not weaken them.  But Bolsonaro himself has violated environmental laws in the Amazon and has been fined. Since he has been elected, enforcement has been significantly diminished sending a land rush signal to short-sighted developers.

According to the Global Change Biology, 2014 report, 30% of our carbon emissions come from burning the rainforests. Climate scientists Karen Vandecar and Deborah Lawrence report that as deforestation increases, global warming is exacerbated, global temperatures increase, and precipitation patterns are altered worldwide (including in the United States).

Destroying Brazil’s Conservations Efforts

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Amazon Rainforest was in the news. It was threatened with logging for short-term agricultural benefits. Several international groups came forward and mounted a global educational campaign to try to stop the deforestation. They were somewhat successful. Brazil was hailed internationally for its conservation efforts at the time.

But just in the past six months since the populist president Bolsonaro, took office, more than 1,330 square miles of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest have been destroyed. This is almost 40% more than what was destroyed last year. Most of the deforestation takes place in June when it’s drier and cooler. 80% more forest cover was removed this June over last June.  Why? Because enforcement required to protect this fragile area has dramatically decreased.

So the question is: Can one country take action that has a dramatic negative effect on the life and wellbeing of all the other countries on the planet? Can one country destroy life-supporting international assets simply because they are on their soil? And can they do this at such a critical time in our existence when we are already in a full-blown climate crisis? Can they push the planet over the edge to the point of no return? Evidently, they can!

An analogous question might be: How did we, the inhabitants of the earth, forget the importance of the Amazon to our existence? Was it generational change? Was there so much “noise” that we forgot priority? Did we forget history? Or did we get caught up in the reality show of the latest news cycle? Why was is so easy to convince the citizens of Brazil, the long-time protectors of the “lungs of the world” that they could now destroy this life-giving asset without consequence?

Mixing Business & Conservation Causes

We have long been conservationists. When we began our Barefoot Wine business, we were following an opportunity rather than our passion. But we found a way to incorporate our passion into our business with Worthy Cause Marketing. By using our advertising money to support conservation causes, we like to think we made a small difference in the general public’s awareness of the fragile balance between our environment and our health. Our passion is still in conservation and now is a much more critical time. Today we are writing about companies that are making a buck by making a difference. See our monthly articles in

But what’s driving the destruction of the rain forest? Companies that are doing just the opposite by indirectly supporting and financing the destruction of the Amazon to offer processed and fast food convenience items for the US and Europe.

Nation vs the World

The US, once the moral compass of the world, has not only abdicated that role several years ago, but it has encouraged the opposite message: “It’s OK to be selfish, and it’s a race to the bottom for the world’s resources no matter the consequences.”  Our own administration has negated and dismantled EPA information and protections. Our own administration has an “America First” attitude that is playing out to be counter-productive. And our own administration has left The Paris Accord. So the message is “Every nation for itself!” We are giving the world permission to destroy the environment upon which we all depend. We all need carbon sequestration; we all need oxygen! But who are we to tell the Brazilians what to do?

Read more in the New York Times and do something about it by joining the Amazon Aid Foundation.

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact