Record number of fires consuming the Amazon

World Today

It’s often called the lungs of the world and the lungs are burning. Flames are sweeping across Brazil’s Amazon rain forest – at an alarming rate.

The destruction described as “unprecedented.” Some said the damage is irreversible. Environmentalists in Brazil are blaming President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies for the fires.

But the President is pointing the finger in a different direction. CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco explains.

Dramatic images captured in several Amazonian states this week follow new data reported by Brazil’s space research agency showing wildfires have hit record numbers.

In a year that authorities said has seen relatively consistent and abundant rainfall, over seventy-two thousand fires have been detected an eighty-four percent increase compared with the same period in 2018, and the highest number since the agency began tracking fires in 2013.

On Monday, smoke from the fires was so intense it blackened the sky of Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, over 2,700 kilometers away.

Critics blame Bolsonaro’s pro-agriculture policies that, they said, have turned a blind eye to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, especially by deliberate burning. But the president, offering no evidence, had a different take on the matter.

“The fires in the Amazon, from my understanding, could be intensified by NGO’s who lose money, with the intention to bring problems to Brazil,” said Bolsanaro.

In the northern city of Salvador which is hosting a UN regional meeting on climate change, hundreds of protesters took to the streets to voice their anger against Bolsonaro’s comments.

“His speech is very irresponsible. He has to prove what he is saying that the NGO’s are the ones setting the fires in the Amazon,” protestor Camila Veiga said.

The figures and images showing the rainforest-covered by smoke have shocked the world and triggered a global social media frenzy.

Scientists warn that rampant deforestation may be pushing the Amazon to a “point of no return.”

The forest may no longer be able to generate its own rain to sustain its complex ecosystems. And scientists said that would be catastrophic.

While the Amazon burns, Bolsonaro insists Brazil’s economy will take off once the country has extracted its rainforest riches.

Germany and Norway have already suspended donations to Brazil’s Amazon Fund after a surge of deforestation and many fear an even wider backlash.