The Amazon rainforest almost never burns on its own – thanks to the torrential rains, but not anymore.
The world’s largest tropical forest has been burning for the last two weeks at an alarming rate. Satellite data, released by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, shows an 84 percent increase in forest fire as compared to the same time period in 2018.
- The Amazon Rainforest – called the ‘Lungs of the World’ – produces more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen
- An area approximately equal to a football pitch is now being cleared every single minute, satellite studies show
- The eight months of 2019 recorded the most number of forest fires since 2013
Images of fires purportedly devouring sections of the world's largest rainforest have gone viral on Twitter. #PrayforAmazonas was the top trending hashtag in the world on Wednesday, with more than 249,000 tweets.
REPORTS: Amazon fire has been blazing for 20 days now, wildlife is being killed and half of Brazil is being covered in such a thick layer of dust and ashes that São Paulo got dark at 3pm yesterday because sunlight couldn’t breach through. pic.twitter.com/rd1FZp9CEK— Abdi Rizack (@Its_Rizack) August 21, 2019
While it was not possible on Wednesday to measure the size of the area affected by the fire, thick smoke in recent days has blanketed several cities, including Sao Paulo, and caused a commercial flight to be diverted.
?Just a little alert to the world: the sky randomly turned dark today in São Paulo, and meteorologists believe it’s smoke from the fires burning *thousands* of kilometers away, in Rondônia or Paraguay. Imagine how much has to be burning to create that much smoke(!). SOS? pic.twitter.com/P1DrCzQO6x— Shannon Sims (@shannongsims) August 20, 2019
THE BUZZ ON TWITTER
However, people took to Twitter to call out media for not covering the forest fire, comparing it to the Notre Dame fire in France that caught the attention of the world.
notre dame burned and it got so much press and a billion in donations but when the amazon, one of the most important rainforests in the world, has been burning for 16 days and destroyed it's literally quiet and people don't know about it— ً (@littIewmen) August 20, 2019
When the Notre Dame was burning, the media reported it within 3 minutes. The Amazon has been burning for 3 weeks, and the news has only just started to cover the story. #PrayforAmazonas pic.twitter.com/HwSCWTHsrs— Ciara Connick (@ciaraconnick1) August 21, 2019
When Notre Dame was burning the world stopped. Billionaires and politicians emptied their pockets to help rebuild. Meanwhile the amazon has been burning for three weeks. The difference is, we don't get to build a new earth. When it's gone, it's gone. #PrayforAmazonas pic.twitter.com/o3GC59PHLu— Francis Maxwell (@francismmaxwell) August 21, 2019
WHY PEOPLE ARE BLAMING BRAZIL PM BOLSONARO
The alarming forest fires come amid criticism over Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro's environmental policies, which scientists and environmentalists say favour development over conservation.
Earlier this month, the head of Brazil’s space research institute was forced to leave his position after standing up to the president's accusations that deforestation data had been manipulated to tarnish the image of his administration.
"73,000 " - Forest fires were recorded in Brazil in the first eight months of the year.
The highest number for any year since 2013. Most were in the Amazon.
The states that have been most affected by fires this year are Mato Grosso, Para and Amazonas – all in the Amazon region – accounting for 41.7 percent of all fires.
"It is very difficult to have natural fires in the Amazon; it happens but the majority come from the hand of humans," said Paulo Moutinho, co-founder of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute.
Bolsonaro has hit back saying "criminal action by those NGOs, to call attention against me, against the Brazilian government" following funding cuts may be the reason for the forest fires.
"“Maybe – I am not affirming it – these (NGO people) are carrying out some criminal actions to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil.”" - Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian President
When asked if he had evidence, the president did not provide any.
"There is a war going on in the world against Brazil, an information war," Bolsonaro said.
(With inputs from AP)
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