The Amazon rainforests are burning, a cataclysmic event brought about by human greed, and a failure on the part of humans to act as the stewards to our home. Brazil’s revved-up deforestation policy under President Jair Bolsonaro has led to images of smoke and fire stretching out from the rainforests. The city of San Pablo is covered in smoke. However, these most recent fires are not particularly new to this regime. The New York Times reported that satellite imagery identified 39,194 fires, which marks “a 77 percent increase from the same period in 2018.”
The rainforest’s deforestation can be seen from space, and has led to imagery like this.
🌎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
The increase in fires in the rainforest has become too much for firefighters to combat, and many have reportedly stopped trying to even contain these outbreaks. It’s important to note that the Amazon rainforest doesn’t have a fire problem of its own creation. Everyone acknowledges that humans are the main source of rainforest fires. The majority of these fires were intentionally ignited, set by farmers clearing their land. The fact that the fires are so bad at this point in the year is also distressing experts, who point out that the drought season begins in August and lasts a few months—which is usually when fires are set.
Bolsonaro’s administration has blamed the increase in fires on “nongovernmental organizations.” Of course, not unlike our current administration, Bolsonaro’s government reduced efforts to regulate and police illegal logging, and Bolsonaro offered up zero evidence of any of his claims. He’s also generally a liar. Bolsonaro, like his American conservative counterparts, seems very interested in blaming government regulations and laws for the fires, suggesting that privatizing the rainforest might be a good way to fix everything. It’s the age-old conservative strategy of choking off government programs and enforcement of existing laws, then saying those laws don’t work and so rich people should be allowed to carve up the public pie and dole out what they see fit.
Robin Chazdon, a professor at Connecticut University who studies rainforest ecology, tells NBC News that the less obvious deleterious effects of these fires will be felt by all of us, not just the people directly under the smoke. Chazdon explains that, unless these areas of rainforest are allowed to grow back, “or be reforested, they will not be able to recover their high potential for carbon storage.” And carbon storage is the name of the game when it comes to our planet’s ecological balance—in regards to life as we know it.
World leaders have spoken out on social media, hoping to bring this problem to more people’s attention.
From Canada and France …
I couldn’t agree more, @EmmanuelMacron. We did lots of work to protect the environment at the #G7 last year in Charlevoix, & we need to continue this weekend. We need to #ActForTheAmazon & act for our planet — our kids & grandkids are counting on us. https://t.co/KwaR8Eevq5
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) August 23, 2019
… to the U.S.
These are the lungs of our planet! The Amazon holds 140 billions of tons of carbon. Its survival is our survival.
I stand in solidarity with the Indigenous people fighting against the destruction of their home for the sake of greed and profit. ✊🏽 pic.twitter.com/O33mIDXFZh
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) August 23, 2019
The #AmazonRainforest is still burning, with thousands of acres of wildlife in flames. World leaders must come together to end this crisis—and President Bolsonaro must step up and take responsibility for these fires and their consequences.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 23, 2019
Environmental and conservationist organizations also have spoken out.
The scale of the Siberian wildfires is underlined by this animation of the huge area of the smoke cloud: more than 5 million km².
For comparison, the EU is about 4.5 million km² and the contiguous US about 8.1 million km².
(Via @anttilip of @IlmaTiede)pic.twitter.com/RDhntqaDEO
— WMO | OMM (@WMO) August 12, 2019
— WWF UK (@wwf_uk) August 21, 2019
Protests have popped up around Europe.
Demonstrations took place outside multiple Brazilian embassies in cities including London, Copenhagen and Madrid, to protest the Brazilian government's response to the record-breaking number of fires in the Amazon rainforest. https://t.co/bipyUXcP42 pic.twitter.com/tJhlluvHJS
— ABC News (@ABC) August 23, 2019
Meanwhile, artists and others try to do their part to both inform and support the work that needs to be done to save our planet’s forests.
— Ralph Steadman Art (@SteadmanArt) August 23, 2019
Of course, while this is going on, climate change denier Donald Trump is tweeting out things like this:
This despite the Fake News and Polls! https://t.co/DksmF8hTr7
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019
His last mention of “Brazil,” is more of a homonym than anything else.
Impossible to believe that @FoxNews has hired @donnabrazile, the person fired by @CNN (after they tried to hide the bad facts, & failed) for giving Crooked Hillary Clinton the questions to a debate, something unimaginable. Now she is all over Fox, including Shep Smith, by far….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2019
With right-wing groups taking control of various nations around the world, the populist claims they rode in on have given way to the harsh reality of what truly corrupt big business leadership looks like.