Environmental advocates blasted Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who joked about "setting the Amazon aflame."
Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay: Three countries are currently burning a vast area of the Amazon. The smoke is so strong that you can even see it from outer space. Another catastrophe that has received too little attention so far.
[dropcap]H[/dropcap]undreds of square kilometers of rainforest in the Amazon Basin are burning right now – in Brazil, these are the worst forest fires in years. Already on August 9, the country has declared a state of emergency. Large parts of forest in Paraguay and Bolivia are burning, too.
In the meantime, the effects of the fire are not only evident in the affected areas: in Sao Paulo, the sky darkened on Monday afternoon – in the middle of the day it looked like it was night. Sao Paolo is some 2,000 kilometers from the fires, with strong winds blowing smoke into the city. Here is a video of the darkened city on Twitter:
Videos and images posted by local residents depicted disturbing scenes of pedestrians walking under black skies and cars driving in the mid-afternoon with their headlights on as the continued fires throughout the Amazon rainforest drove the hashtags #PrayforAmazonia and #PrayforAmazonas to worldwide viral status.
Why is the Amazon rainforest burning?
According to Reuters news agency, 72,843 fires were recorded in Brazil this year alone – a new record. Since last Thursday, 9,507 new fires have been added. Fires during the dry period are normal, but not that number.
The drought favors the fires, but it is not the cause. According to Reuters, many of the fires are caused by loggers, farmers & miners. E.g. farmers want to use them to create grazing land for their cattle. Brazil is the largest beef exporter in the world, in the country there are more cattles than humans – and they need space, lots of space.
#PrayforAmazoniais trending on Twitter
The rainforests in the Amazon are considered the green lung of the earth: they store CO2 and produce oxygen, are home to numerous animal species and influence the weather. The fires are ecologically catastrophic – but so far they have received too little attention.
Although the situation in the countries was reported, but rather on the sidelines. Special reports or talk shows on the topic can’t be found anywhere. Only since the sinister recordings from Sao Paolo, the event got more into focus. The hashtag “PrayforAmazonia” is currently trending on Twitter. The pictures are disturbing:
Help for Notre Dame but not for the Amazon
Numerous users complain on Twitter about the fact that the world community has shown so much helpfulness and interest in the fire of Notre-Dame, but the fires in the Amazon are simply ignored!
Greenpeace Germany tweeted: “Instead of prayers we demand following: Exit from the Mercosur agreement. No business with forest destruction. ”
Ok, but what can I do to help?
Disasters like those in the Amazon basin leave us feeling helpless – what can you do, for example, far away in Europe or even in the US, Canada or Australia against forest fires in Brazil or Bolivia? One can at least try not to contribute to the bigger problems that cause such accidents:
- Do not buy meat imported from South America.
- Do not buy meat from industrial factory farming: The animals are fed with soybeans for which possibly rainforest was burned. (For the sake of the environment, eat less meat anyway.)
- Avoid (conventional) palm oil – rainforest is also logged and burned for that.
- Support afforestation projects
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