Things That Matter

Brazil’s Government Is Wrong About The Amazon Fires And This Proves It

The Amazon rainforest in South America has been burning for more than two weeks. The majority of the fires are located in Brazil, but neighboring Bolivia has also been affected. Fires in this time of the year are common, but they are usually controllable and die off when rain comes. 

This year is different: climate change, experts argue, has translated into a drier summer spell, which is to blame for the severity of the fires. The incendios are also a result of human action, as they are often used as a method of clearing land for farming and industrial purposes. This time, however, things have gotten out of control. 

The Amazon, which works as our planet’s lungs, are experiencing unprecedented fires.

Credit: Instagram. @costa.vicentina.oficial

Experts argue that the massive South American rainforest provides around 20% of the world’s oxygen. As reported by The Sun, if the Amazon is threatened a process of “dieback” could be triggered. This means that the rainforest would spew carbon back into the atmosphere, speeding up climate change. British researchers have said that “If 20 per cent of Brazil’s rainforest perished it could exacerbate this process in such a way which would dry trees, leaving them unable to absorb as much carbon and making it more flammable and likely to spread fires”. So this could actually be the beginning of the end. 

So how bad is it? 

Credit: Instagram. @maribricenod

In short: pretty damn awful. There are more than 70,000 fires burning as you read this. The amount of smoke is so huge that one of Brazil’s biggest cities, Sao Paolo, has been covered by a dark cloud. The sun is nowhere to be seen. As The Economist reports: “Social-media users posted pictures of the gloom, juxtaposing the dystopian afternoon sky with fictional apocalyptic places such as Gotham City from Batman, Mordor from Lord of the Rings and “the upside down” from Stranger Things”. 

Las cosas se encuentran de la fregada, to be honest.

Credit: Twitter. @WMO

The World Meteorological Organization, the United Nation’s weather arm, tweeted about the fires Thursday: “Fires release pollutants including particulate matter & toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides  and non-methane organic compounds into the atmosphere”. The organization has also been updating satellite imagery of the fires which shows the extent of the damage. Half of Brazil is covered in smoke. 

The main culprits: the cattle and logging industries.

Credit: Twitter. @DaniRabaiotti

Wildfires in the Amazon are not natural events at all. They are caused by two main factors: droughts, a product of climate change, and human industrial activities. The farming industry often starts these fires (sometimes illegally) to clear land for animals to roam. The logging industry is also to blame, as an article in The Conversation explains: “These changes are exacerbated by ‘selective logging’ of specific tree species, which opens up the canopy and further dries out the understory and forest edges, which are drier than the interiors. The result: normally fire-proof rainforests become flammable”. Yes, profit is the force behind the deadly force of fire. 

And obviously environmentalists and activists are muy encabronados!

Credit: Twitter. @MuseWendi

Wildfires concern us all. They will affect the prospects of human survival on Earth for generations to come. To be honest, we should all be very upset about this. 

The whole world should be paying attention, but if you Google “Amazon Fire” this is what you get

Credit: Screenshot. Google Search. 

Seriously. Algorithmic searching does not always work best when it comes to raising awareness on important issues that concern the whole of humanity. As digital natives, we experience news events according to our own media consumption, so we risk living in a bubble where everything seems fine while the world is quite literally on fire. 

Yeah, Notre Dame sure is an icon, but the Amazon keeps the planet alive.

Credit: Instagram. @maribricenod

Sure, the Notre Dame cathedral, which was severely damaged by a fire on April 15, is an icon of Western Europe and a source of pride for France. When the building was burning down, millions of people took on social media to send prayers and express their alarm. The response to the Amazonian fire has been small in comparison, which begs the question: what do we value more, culture or nature? Food for thought!

The fires are a sort of apocalypse for indigenous Brazilians.

Credit: Twitter. @karielaing

The Amazon is inhabited by indigenous populations that have survived centuries of colonization and pillaging first by the Portuguese and then by corporations and the Brazilian government. These fires spell disaster for original owners of the land, whose home and survival is at risk. They blame industry and indiscriminate land clearing for the disaster. 

The Internet is pretty angry at Brazil’s new president, the right-wing Jair Bolsonaro, who suggested that NGOs might have started the fires! 

Seriously, WTAF! Even if he has since somewhat retracted from what he said, Bolsonaro has said that the fires are being set by his critics to make him look bad. He said: “The fire was started, it seemed, in strategic locations. There are images of the entire Amazon. How can that be? Everything indicates that people went there to film and then to set fires. That is my feeling”.

Pretty egocentric, eh? No wonder he is often compared to Donald J. Trump. In the latest developments, Bolsonaro has said that his country does not have the resources to fight the fire. Damn. 

The fires could accelerate climate change, according to the UN, but the Brazilian government seems to be ignoring the extent of the catastrophe.

Credit: Instagram. @amnistiapt

The United Nations and European countries such as France are now raising their voices, urging the Brazilian government to act. As reported by Agence France Press: “France’s President Emmanuel Macron said the wildfires were “an international crisis” and called on the globe’s most industrialized nations to address it at their summit this weekend”. 

Macron said on Twitter: “Our house is on fire. Literally. The Amazon, the lung of our planet which produces 20 percent of our oxygen is burning”. 

Bolsonaro’s response? He criticized the UN and France for having a “colonialist mentality”. El burro hablando de orejas. 

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