The Amazon rainforest is still burning.
Blazes have been torching the world’s largest tropical forest for three weeks now. French President Emmanuel Macron called it an “international crisis” and put the fires on the agenda of the G7 meeting over the weekend, triggering a diplomatic spat with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. G7 countries promised €20 million in aid for the rainforest, which Bolsonaro said Tuesday he would reject.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has reported at least 74,000 fires in the Amazon this year so far, an increase of 84 percent compared to the same time last year.
The smoke from the fires has cast a pall stretching across the country and reaching coastal metropolises like São Paulo.
Forests have a profound influence on the carbon cycle
It’s an alarming increase because the Amazon almost never burns on its own and the increase in fires this year has been so dramatic. The region is usually too wet to ignite, so the vast majority of fires are caused by humans. Some of the blazes are started by farmers aiming to clear land, some by illegal loggers trying to cover their tracks, and some by negligence. Fires and logging had been on the decline for years in the Amazon until Bolsonaro, who made his intentions to exploit the Amazon perfectly clear, took office last year.
Bowing to domestic protests and international pressure, Bolsonaro deployed the military over the weekend to fight the fires now burning across six Brazilian states.