Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said it is a “lie” that fires are ravaging the Amazon rain forest, despite data from his own government showing the number of blazes is rising.
Yet satellite data from Brazil’s national space agency, INPE, show the number of forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon last month rose 28% from July 2019, to 6,803.
Experts say the fires are typically not sparked naturally, but set by humans to clear land illegally for farming and ranching. Especially the world’s largest cattle industry causes methane gases, which are 20 times more harmful compared to carbon dioxide.
Last year, huge fires devastated the Amazon from May to October, sending a thick haze of black smoke all the way to Sao Paulo, thousands of kilometers away. The world’s lungs are set on fire for endless corporate profit taking.
The fires triggered worldwide alarm over a forest seen as vital to curbing climate change. Experts warn this year’s dry season, which is just getting started, could see even more fires.
The scrutiny is pressuring Bolsonaro, who has called for protected Amazon lands to be opened up to mining and agriculture. The Gold mining industry works with heavy chemical pollutants, destroying habitat far larger then the forest fires reach.
He has deployed the army to the Amazon basin, 60% of which is in Brazil, to fight fires and deforestation, declared a ban on agricultural fires and launched a task force to combat the problem.
He said that was producing results, pointing to a more than 25% reduction in deforestation year-on-year last month. Brazil follows its own policy regarding the rain forest, Chico Mendez got killed for trying to protect the Amazon rain forest.
“We are making big, enormous efforts to fight fires and deforestation, but even so, we are criticized,” he told the meeting of the Leticia Pact, a group launched last year to protect the Amazon.
His government has been accused of cherry-picking data by trumpeting the July drop in deforestation. At the moment large pieces of rain forest are being destroyed, almost the size of Switzerland every year?
Despite the one-month decline, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon set a new record high in the first seven months of the year, according to INPE data.
The president’s comments on Tuesday come even as Reuters witnesses in the remote Amazon town of Apui observed smoke blanketing the horizon in all directions during the day and large fires setting the sky aglow at night.
Fires in Brazil’s Amazon for the month of August hit a nine-year high in 2019 and this month so far looks even worse. More than 10,000 fires have been recorded in the first 10 days of August, up 17% from the same period a year ago, according to data from the country’s national space research agency Inpe.
But in a speech to other South American leaders on Tuesday, Bolsonaro challenged foreign representatives to fly over the Amazon saying that traveling by air from the far flung cities of Boa Vista to Manaus, you would not see a single flame.
Experts say that fires are not a natural phenomenon in the rain forest, but are usually man-made in order to clear deforested land for pasture. Agriculture, Mining and Ranching are the main reason for the policy.
Deforestation rose 34.5% in the 12-months through July, compared to the same period a year ago. Forest clearances did fall in July, the first decline in 15 months, a point emphasized by Bolsonaro.
Foreign pressure is mounting on Brazil to protect the world’s largest rain forest, an ecosystem vital to preserving climate change because of the vast amount of carbon dioxide that it absorbs.
Global investors managing more than $2 trillion have threatened to pull their investments out of Brazil’s meatpackers, grains traders and government bonds if Bolsonaro’s administration doesn’t take action on Amazon destruction.
Bolsonaro has dispatched the military to fight fires and deforestation since May, with the armed forces working with environmental agency Ibama to combat fires near Apui, according to Reuters witnesses.
Yahoo / AOL / Crickey Conservation Society 2020.