- The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is on fire, burning at the highest rate since 2013.
- Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has reacted by claiming, without evidence, that NGOs could be burning it down on purpose.
There’s been a significant increase in wildfires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, and it’s gotten so bad that the damage can now be seen from space.
New data released by the country’s space research agency is bringing more attention to what’s going on after a blackout in São Paulo on Monday sparked concerns, particularly since São Paulo is more than 1,700 miles away from the rainforest.
Many are also criticising both Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro for his reaction to the fires and the lack of global response compared to the outcry when the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France, caught fire earlier this year.
Here’s what’s really going on in Brazil, and how to help the Amazon rainforest right now.
The Amazon rainforest is burning.
That much is obvious, if you’ve spent 10 seconds looking at the video clips coming out of Brazil this week.
🌎Just a little alert to the world: the sky randomly turned dark today in São Paulo, and meteorologists believe it’s smoke from the fires burning *thousands* of kilometers away, in Rondônia or Paraguay. Imagine how much has to be burning to create that much smoke(!). SOS🌎 pic.twitter.com/P1DrCzQO6x— Shannon Sims (@shannongsims) August 20, 2019
Just a reminder that the amazon rainforest has been ON FIRE. For 3 weeks with the media just barely covering it now . Think of all the wildlife and their homes that are being destroyed during this tragedy. #PrayForAmazonía pic.twitter.com/0hcYLz8HPa— 𝙴𝚖𝚖.𝚡0𝚡 (@IgTears) August 21, 2019
The fires are getting much, much worse.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) now reports that satellite data shows an 84% increase in 2019 wildfires compared to last year. The institute also reports that there’s been an 88% increase in deforestation in the Amazon, which is terrible news for the environment and the rainforests.
The European Union’s satellite program shows that the smoke from the fires can now be seen from space, because it’s gotten that bad.
From the other side of Earth, here’s the latest on the Amazonia fires 🌳— WMO | OMM (@WMO) August 20, 2019
Produced by @CopernicusEU’s atmosphere monitoring service, it shows the smoke reaching the Atlantic coast and São Paulo 🇧🇷
DATA HERE▶️https://t.co/Q6qzFdPfIT pic.twitter.com/aJKU2YwRpJ
Here‘s how the Amazon rainforest fires started in the first place.
During dry season in Brazil, wildfires often start in the rainforest. That is nothing new. The difference this time is the fires have been worse than normal and some of them might have questionable origins.
The INPE (mentioned above) says that it has caught 72,000 fires this year already and more than 9,500 in the past week, which is extremely abnormal. In 2018, it registered fewer than 40,000 fires, so 2019 is already much worse before the year is even over.
Express alleges that some of the fires have been “deliberately” started to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching, but Jair Bolsonaro has another theory.
Brazil‘s president is blaming NGOs, for some reason.
Jair Bolsonaro is a controversial president to begin with, especially when it comes to environmental regulations, but he took it to another level Wednesday by saying that non-governmental organisations could be burning the rainforest on purpose to shame the government after Jair cut their funding.
It’s one hell of a conspiracy theory that simultaneously has little to do with the criticised environmental policies that Bolsonaro implemented, which is part of why it has people so angry.
According to CNN, “federal interference” in Brazil is making it easier for people to exploit the rainforest, and Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency’s operations have gone down since Bolsonaro was sworn in.
Here‘s how to help the rainforest, even if you don‘t live in Brazil.
You don’t have to be a firefighter or climate change activist on the ground in Brazil to help preserve the Amazon rainforest. There are plenty of options, so check them out.
- Protect an acre of rainforest through the Rainforest Action Network.
- Focus on the animals of the rainforest specifically by donating or volunteering with the WWF.
- Sign a petition to encourage governmental action, if that’s your thing. Here’s a Greenpeace one.
- Fast Company reports that reducing your beef consumption can also help, because rainforest beef reportedly goes into fast-food hamburgers and processed beef products.