A record number of wildfires are burning in Brazil's Amazon rainforest

Friday, 23 Aug, 2019

Fires are raging at a record rate in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, and scientists warn it could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change. Bolsonaro's criticism of the data and the federal agency monitoring the Amazon region for deforestation led to the firing of the institute's director.

Calling out Bolsonaro's pro-business stance, Carlos Rittl of the Observatorio do Clima (Climate Observatory) told CNN that environmentalists and researchers have put the onus on Bolsonaro's pro-business leadership for emboldening farmers to cut away at more Amazon land for ranching.

The number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon between January 1 and August 20 - more than 74,000 as of Tuesday - has risen 84% from the same period in 2018, according to data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which used satellites to collect its research.

In addition to providing more than one-fifth of the planet's oxygen, the rainforest's trees also store vast amounts of carbon, which keeps that carbon out of the atmosphere, therefore reducing the amount of heat the atmosphere absorbs, known as global warming.

Bolsonaro's environmental policies have been controversial from the start.

Want more of today's best plant-based news, recipes, and lifestyle? "Isn't Norway the country where they kill whales in the North Pole?", he said to journalists, before advising Oslo: "Take the money and help Angela Merkel reforest Germany". The INPE says the amount of land that was deforested last month alone represented a almost 300 percent surge over deforestation in June 2018. This is the war we face, "he added".

It is common for nomadic farmers to slash and burn forest to create fertilized farmland in the dry season, which begins from July or August, and continues until early November.

The Amazon is also home to innumerable species of fauna and flora as the largest rainforest on the planet, not to mention these fires are also affecting the local populations around the rainforest.

The INPE figures show fires have been concentrated in states occupying the Amazon.

Brazil leads the region in forest fires this year, according to the INPE data that is collected via satellite and updated in real time.

Wildfires have become more frequent in Mato Grosso and Para, two states where Brazil's agricultural frontier has pushed into the Amazon basin and spurred deforestation.

A record-number of fires have burned in the Amazon this year, authorities said Tuesday.

In comparison, there are slightly more than 40,000 in the same period of 2018, it said.

The 25th UN Conference on Climate Change (COP25) was originally planned for Brazil, but the country pulled out.

The head of the agency was sacked because Bolsonaro felt the data was inaccurate and made Brazil look bad to the rest of the world, The Associated Press reported.

"Even out here in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean I hear about the record amount of devastating fires in the Amazon", tweeted teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who is on yacht voyage to NY.