For three weeks now the Amazon Rainforest has been on fire. This was not shared on mainstream media until recently; instead people globally shared photos and messages, spreading awareness.
Environmental regulations to protect the Amazon have been slowly stripped since Jair Bolsonaro has taken office. He first blamed the fires on NGOs wanting to make the government look bad. Then he downplayed the damaging fires as natural events in the dry, hot season that the government did not have the resources to help extinguish. These fires were started deliberately and Bolsonaro is not interested in rectifying the situation. He wants the Amazon to burn.
Bolsonaro said in March, “Brazil does not owe the world anything when it comes to environmental protection.”
Tensions have been high between indigenous tribes and Bolsonaro’s government since the beginning of his term in January. Despite the indigenous people’s rights to reside in the Amazon Rainforest, there has been illegal deforestation to make room for logging, mining and cattle ranching. Just this year, between January and August, there have been 71,497 outbreaks; a rise of 82 percent since last year.
Bolsonaro has said he sees the Amazon as a resource to uplift Brazil’s economy. Specifically with cattle ranching, the animals are grown for meat that is then imported globally. According to the World Wildlife Fund, cattle ranching accounts for 80 percent of the deforestation in the Amazon.
Organizations and people around the world have criticized Bolsonaro’s role in the destruction of the Amazon. The idigenous tribes who call the Amazon Rainforest home have been fighting for their and the rainforest’s rights, urging Brazilian officials to stop the damage. Extinction Rebellion led several protests outside Brazilian Embassies, covering the building in messages and red paint to signify the blood lost due to the fires. Amid cutting trade deals and people boycotting Brazilian products, Bolsonaro decided to deploy military personnel to combat the fires and accepted a small amount of aid ($12 million) from Britain.
The fires are emitting a large amount of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, causing even more distress to the planet and the inhabitants in the area. Cities miles away from the fires, like São Paulo, were covered in black smoke, turning day into night.
The Amazon Rainforest provides a significant percent of the Earth’s oxygen supply, plays a vital role in the water cycle and maintaining the Earth’s climate. Bolsonaro is burning precious rainforest, devaluing the environment and people’s lives for profit.
You can help. Bring awareness to the deforestation, make a donation to help the rainforest or the indigenous communities that are being displaced, or take part in civil disobedience with an environmental organization, like Extinction Rebellion. We can not allow one government to ruin an integral part of the planet for short-term profit.