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The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning: About the Recent Fire Outbreaks

The number of fire outbreaks in Brazil during the beginning of the year until August was the highest in the last seven years, with 79,513 outbreaks. Until then, 2016 was the year with the largest record of outbreaks, 74,317. At that time, the climate it was very dry, besides the occurrence of a strong El Niño, a phenomena that affects the temperature distribution of the Pacific Ocean water surface, with large changes in climate. These events modify a Southern Oscillation ocean temperature system and because of this, there are often some modifications like OSEN.

Experts say that the main assumption of why burns are occurring frequently is to “clean up” the area that was previously deforested. According to researcher Doug Morton, it is possible to discuss this hypothesis by analyzing smoke columns that can be seen via satellite, which makes it possible to know the origin of the burn. To the surprise of some and opening a new discussion about the reason for the burnings, the satellite does not show the burning in the ground, which would be for clearing the pasture, but in piles of tree trunks that had been drying for a long time under the sun.

Another hypothesis about the burns would be the dry climate, but as commented earlier, 2016 was drier than 2019. The IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute) studied this hypothesis and concluded that the biggest reason about are happening these burnings it is because the deforestation. According to IPAM researchers, the areas with the highest fire outbreaks also have the highest deforestation rates, accounting for 43% of deforestation by July and 37% of hot outbreaks by August.

The outbreaks of the fires are distributed throughout the so-called “Arc of Deforestation”, which is located in Acre, passing through Rondônia, southern Amazonas, northern Mato Grosso and southeast Pará. In Brazil, there has been a 15% increase in the rate of deforestation in the last 12 months, according to NGO Imazon independent monitoring system. “Deforestation, burning, lack of funds and inspectors,” said Brazilian environmentalists about the situation.

Using the “Deter” system, the Inpe (National Institute for Space Research) made fast satellite detections to guide field surveillance and saw a 49.62% increase in tree felling between August 2018 and the month July this year.

In July of this year, the Bolsonaro government stated that the date pointed out by Inpe was false and later turned back and confirmed the increase in Amazon deforestation, but added that this has been happening since 2012. The fact escaleted to the dismissal of physicist Ricardo Galvão from the direction of Inpe. “Inpe tells the truth that’s not what the government wants to hear,” says the Greenpeace coordinator. According to the Ministry of Environment, Galvão’s resignation was because to the “lying data” disclosed by him. After that, the Ministry changed his mind and justified that the ex-director of Inpe was resigned because he should not had disclose the information without warning the president first.

Several international communication vehicles have exalted the serious problem of burns, using data from Inpe. These international reports have contributed to many reflections on the Bolsonaro government that seemed desinterested about the burnings and the deforested areas. The president even stated that burnings are not that serious and maybe some NGOs would be responsible for them. “We took money from NGOs, pass on forums, 40% to NGOs, no more. These people are missing money. There may be, I am not claiming, criminal action by these ‘ngoers’ to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil”.

These attitudes caused a huge negative international repercussion and the Amazon fund was the most damaged one. An example of this is Norway and Germany, which suspended the transfer of almost $ 300 million for the conservation of the Amazon. “I even wanted to send a message to dear lady Angela Merkel, who suspended $ 80 million for the Amazon. Take this money and reforest Germany, OK? She needs a lot more there, ”said Jair Bolsonaro.

The money from the transfer goes out of Europe, it goes to the BNDES (National Bank for Economic and Social Development), it is invested in projects approved by environmental NGOs, the NGOs applies the money and declares the expenses to the bank and talk about the sucess or not of the application. Without this transfer the government is tied hands with money. According to Astrini, from Greenpeace, the money is donated, but as the government does not require protection of the environment, it does not require funds and causes a serious image problem in Brazil.

Bruna Canellas

Casper Libero '19

Journalism student in love with discovering new things and always in search of knowledge.
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