The latest hashtag to go viral and trend on the internet is #PrayforAmazonia while fires continue to ravage the Brazilian Rainforest.
As reported by EuroNews, these fires, which have been going for weeks in the states of Rondônia, Amazonas, Pará, and Mato Grosso, have become so bad that Amazonas was forced to declare a state of emergency earlier this month. Smoke from these fires was reported to be so thick that it actually blocked out sunlight in places across the country, including São Paulo. The fires were captured a week ago by NASA’s Aqua satellite – and they are terrifying to see the massive scale.
Many people have expressed concern over effects that the fires will pose for residents, animal life, as well as the natural landscape. As reported by Reuters, these fires have promoted major criticism of Jair Bolsonaro, of Brazil’s far-right president who’s dismissed the severity of the fires.
“I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame,” Bolsonaro said to reporters regarding the backlash. “But it is the season of the queimada.”
“Season of the queimada” is a reference to the time of year when farmers intentionally set forest fires in order to clear land for agricultural purposes. However, it has been noted that the fires are isolated, while there has been an unprecedented spike in wildfires since Bolsonaro took office early in 2019. While he was campaigning Bolsonaro also promised to roll back protection on not just the rainforest, but also indigenous rights, saying that Brazil’s natural resources should be exploited in a “reasonable way.”
Data has shown that deforestation in the Amazon has surged since Bolsonaro assumed office. According to a report by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), an estimated 870 square miles of the Amazon rainforest have been destroyed by man-made fires last month, marking a 278-percent increase from July 2018. Bolsonaro called the data “a lie” and then fired INPE’s director Ricardo Galvão.
As reported by the Guardian, last month Bolsonaro said, “I am convinced the data is a lie. We are going to call the president of INPE here to talk about this and that’s the end of that issue. For the first time in the history of Brazil a president of the republic is looking to fulfill with everything he does what he promised during the campaign. God willing, everything will work, policies like mine will continue in Brazil forever.”
Experts have said that since the Amazon rainforest plays a vital role in stabilizing the world’s carbon emissions, the combined effects of climate change with deforestation can significantly destroy the planet.
So, #PrayforAmazonia because apparently that’s the best that we can do instead of trying to make actual changes to reverse the damage we’ve caused.