Brazil has had more than 72,000 fire outbreaks so far this year, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). That is an increase of 84% compared to the same timeframe in 2018, with more than half of them happening in the Amazon.
The fires made the day turn to night as smoke engulfed the city of São Paulo on Monday afternoon, a city that is more than 1,700 miles away from the Amazon.
President Jair Bolsonaro is sceptical of environmental concerns. Reuters have reported President Bolsonaro saying this time of year is when farmers use fires to clear the land, or ‘queimada’. Reuters quoted Bolsonaro saying: “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada.”
But the figures don’t lie, and scientists have said the Amazon has suffered losses at a faster rate since the president took office in January, with policies favouring development over conservation.
The Amazon rainforest is referred to as the planet’s lungs due to it producing 20% of the oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere. Greenpeace wrote, “The Amazon Basin stores approximately 100 billion metric tons of carbon, more than ten times the annual global emissions from fossil fuels.”
But in early August, INPE found that 1,330 square miles of rainforest had been lost since January alone. And how are we supposed to breathe with no lungs?
A contributing factor to the speed at which the fires are spreading is that it’s the dry season. It’s the time of year where wildfires generally break out. But it is said this year is particularly dry, which has allowed the wildfires to catch more easily. For years, the humidity in the rainforest protected the Amazon from wildfires, but sadly this is no longer the case.
A combination of deforestation, wildfires, and drought mean we are at danger. Greenpeace say, “No matter how far from the region you live, the Amazon plays an important role in all of our lives, and we all play a role in protecting the homes of thousands of people and some of the world’s rarest wildlife.”
No matter what you do in this fight against climate change, however big or small, it makes a difference. And right now, we need to come together to save the