Amazon Burns, But Brazil’s Bolsonaro Calls It A “Lie”

We had almost lost the Amazon forest last year until the images of the raging fire in the world’s largest forest started to surface the internet. People around the globe took a storm over the social media against Brazil’s Government for not preserving the rainforest.

A recent report says that the fire season has kicked off early in the Amazonia and is more devastating than last year. It is said that the fire is the worst start to August in a decade, with the protected area witnessing an increase in the blaze over the last ten days.

Deforestation also continues to accelerate in this area, mounting fears that the coming months could bring catastrophic damage to the region. According to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Brazil’s space agency in 2019, its satellite data showed an 84 per cent increase in forest loss than the previous year.

Last year, Amazon fires prompted an international outcry, burning so fiercely and widely in August that drifting smoke turned the afternoon skies above Sao Paulo, 2,500 km from the forest, dark as night. Now experts say the triple threats of unchecked deforestation, assumed support from the Bolsonaro administration, and drier than usual weather could trigger an even worse environmental crisis in the coming months.

Deforestation and fires inhibit the capacity for tropical forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Amazon is a globally significant carbon sink, but studies suggest that as fires smoldered for weeks, propelling thick plumes of carbon dioxide-laden smoke into the air, especially the region could be at risk of transformation to a net carbon source, causing an acceleration in climate breakdown.

The first ten days of August saw 10,136 hotspots across the Amazon biome, 17 per cent higher than the 8,669 hotspots registered last year. Data from INPE, shows it was the highest number for the beginning of August since the 11,280 seen in 2010, when a severe drought in the Amazon shrank the Rio Negro to its lowest level in 109 years. Fire season usually begins in late July and intensifies in August.

Fires in Indigenous territories have continued to increase in August, but less steeply, rising 6 per cent compared to last year.

Brazilian Government’s response to Amazon Fire

On Tuesday, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said it is a “lie,” despite data from his own Government showing the number of blazes is rising.

Bolsonaro, further in his speech to other South American leaders, challenged foreign representatives to travel to Amazon by air from Boa Vista to Manaus and claimed that they wouldn’t see a single flame.

“This story that the Amazon is going up in flames is a lie, and we must combat it with true numbers,” he said as per the report by Reuters.

He further argued that Brazil has shown itself capable of protecting the Amazon alone because most of the forest is still standing.

He added that the Amazon is a wet forest that preserves itself and does not catch fire. The media and foreign Governments are presenting a false narrative about it.

Bolsanaro had used similar tactics last year, arguing with world leaders when massive fires in the rainforest captured global attention. At that time, he had fired INPE’s then head Ricardo Galvao, who defended his agency’s numbers that showed rising destruction.

Reaction from experts and International powers:

Experts say that fires are not a natural phenomenon in the rainforest, but are usually human-made to clear deforested land for pasture.

Deforestation rose nearly 35 per cent from July 2019 to July 2020, despite the Government’s supposed efforts to combat it.

International pressure mounts on the Brazilian Government to protect the world’s largest tropical forest, as 34 global investors managing more than 2 trillion dollars have threatened to pull their investments out of Brazil’s companies if the Government doesn’t take the initiative to preserve Amazon.

A federal decree on July 16 banned deforestation for 120 days in the Amazon during the region’s dry season. Despite the ban, July saw an increase in fires: there were 6,803 fires in the Amazon last month, 28 per cent more than in July 2019.

Preserving the world’s largest rainforest is vital for the existence of life on earth. Amazon is the “lungs of the earth” that absorbs about 5 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually, helping the planet to control the climate change to a large extend. Scientists fear that it is only a few before the ecosystem collapses, and greenhouse gases make the world unliveable.

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