Brazilian President suggests NGOs setting blazes in Amazon

World Today

The Amazon – the largest rainforest in the world is up in flames. Fires are burning at a record rate – More than 72,000 fires this year alone.

More than half in the rainforest. That’s up more than 80% from a year ago.

Some of the flames sweeping through vegetation and coming dangerously close to a highway in the northern state of Rondonia.

The fires are so huge – they can be seen from Space.

CGTN’s Asieh Namdar reports.

Smoke visible over not only Brazil, but Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay as well.

Experts said the fires could have a major impact on regional climate and the massive loss of forest would be felt on a global scale.

 The fires also threatening remote indigenous tribes.

“Our forest is burning, that means a crime against my people and against the remote peoples but also against the biodiversity of this land,” said Indigenous leader Olimpio Guajajara.

Critics blame President Jair Bolsonaro.

They said he’s allowing more logging and land clearing for farms and commercial use in the rainforest.

Bolsonaro has pointed the finger at environmental non-profit groups – saying they are trying to make him look bad.

“Regarding the fires in the Amazon, which in my opinion may have been caused by NGOs, because they lost money. What is the intention, to bring trouble to Brazil?”

The comments triggered a backlash from environmental activists and NGO’s who called Bolsonaro’s comments a ‘distraction’.

“It is immensely absurd – The fires are the consequence of a policy of environmental devastation, of support for agribusiness, of increasing pastures. So we know that it is an absurdity to distract the media,” said Camila Veiga, with the Brazilian Association of NGOs

Earlier this month, Bolsonaro fired the head of Brazil’s space research agency after it reported deforestation had increased 88% this June compared to last June.

Protesters heckled President Bolsonaro’s environment minister at a climate conference this week.

Most of the fires are burning in Brazil’s northwest.

But the smoke is so thick – and the fires so numerous, Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city in the southeast experienced a daytime blackout.

Strong winds and a cold front brought in smoke from more than 2700 kilometers away.

And as the Amazon burns, scientists said the unfolding crisis could be approaching a tipping point, with the fires doing irreversible damage to Brazil’s ecosystem and well beyond its borders.