Amazon Fire is burning the Amazon Rain forest in Brazil for more than three weeks. Since August 15, more than 9500 new forest fires have started across Brazil, primarily in the Amazon Basin. At least 1,130 new fires ignited in the Amazon over the weekend. Lakhs of wild animals have been charred or suffocated to death by the expanding fire. The Rain Forests that are lungs of the planet are being destroyed leading to a catastrophic human existential crisis. People worldwide are demanding that President Bolsonaro be prosecuted for Crime for killing lakhs of animals and crime against Humanity for destroying the lungs of the planet. People are demanding that Amazon Rain Forests be declared protected like Antarctica.
That makes 79,513 fires in Brazil’s portion of the rainforest so far this year — the highest annual total since 2013, That’s nearly double 2018’s total of about 40000 fires.
In 2017, Brazil had plans to build almost 40 hydroelectric dams before 2022. Current President Bolsonaro permitted loggers, ranchers and farmers to expand and control the Amazon. He cut $23 million from Brazil’s budget to maintain the environment. His son, Flavio Bolsonaro, who is a senator, pushed a reform, which removed farmer’s rights to maintain 50-80% of their land ownership in the Amazon. He even removed the rights of tribes in Amazon to preserve the forest.
Because of these aggression, 15% of the Amazon is already damaged.
Amazon Rain Forest
The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rain forest. It spans eight countries and covers 40% of South America. (Area: 550 million hectares); It’s 20 times bigger than the Philippines. and is seen as vital to the fight against climate change because of the vast amounts of carbon dioxide that it absorbs.
The Amazon, which provides 20% of the planet’s oxygen and is often referred to as “the planet’s lungs.” The Amazon basin, which contains 40% of the world’s rain forest, plays a very complex yet central role as a buffer of climate change. It functions as a cooler of the atmosphere through moisture evaporation and it produces its own rainfall in the dry season while also capturing carbon and acting as the Earth’s lungs. It helps maintain the temperature of the planet. It is home to an estimated one million indigenous people from up to 500 tribes as well some three million species of plants and animals, including jaguars, sloths, giant otters, river dolphins, howler monkeys, toucans, reptiles, frogs and insects (10% of flora and fauna of the world).
On the afternoon of Aug. 19, the sky over São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, went dark. A cold front combined with ash from forest fires in the Amazon rain forest and formed ominous clouds that blocked out the sun. Photos of the blackened sky began to pop on Twitter, and soon the world was paying attention to the blazes rampaging across the forest called “the lungs of the world.”
Condemnation of Brazil Government and President Jair Bosonaro
Large protests were organized throughout Brazil with People coming to streets to protest against President Jair Bosonaro. We are posting a video of such protests in Brazil.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Brazil’s embassy in central London with placards reading: “The planet deserves better” and “Our house is on fire”.
There were also rallies outside Brazil’s embassies in Mexico City and Paris, where demonstrators reportedly carried banners reading: “Fora Bolsonaro!” or “Bolsonaro, out!”
Protesters also surrounded the Brazilian consulate in Geneva while further marches were planned in cities including Adelaide, Lisbon, Stockholm, Boston and Florida
There was worldwide condemnation of Brazil Government and President Jair Bolsonaro on Social media. Social media is filled with comments, emphasizing the need for protecting and restoring the Amazon Rain Forest. We are posting some of the comments on Twitter.
“This is a global crisis that cannot be ignored! It’s the responsibility of the world to save it.”
“We’re losing species we do not even know exist.”
“#AmazonFire Climate change isn’t about the climate – it is about the survival of the human race.”
“There is no planet B. Let’s work together to save this one. Tell Bolsonaro to stop Amazon destruction”
“We must fight forest fires, and also invest in restoring lost and degraded ecosystems.”
“We need a Marshall Plan for nature now.”
“It is heartbreaking to see the animals that didn’t survive the #AmazonFire.”
A twitter user, Matthew VanDyke, twitter handle @Matt_VanDyke on Aug 26 tweeted, “#Brazil is clearly unable to be caretaker of the #Amazon rainforest as shown by the #AmazonFire. Given the ecological, medicinal and climate importance to our entire species, perhaps it’s time to place part of the Amazon rainforest under international treaty similar to Antarctica”
Another twitter user said, “It is high time UN declares Amazon Rain Forest as natural heritage forest and guard it with UN forces. Any attempts to destroy the life-giving forest be treated as a crime against humanity. Bolsorano should be prosecuted in International Court of Justice for Gross crime for killing lakhs of wild animals and creating a crisis that pose a threat to the existence of Human Race.”
The actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio took to Instagram amid the Amazon forest fires to call on his followers to adopt more conscious habits. He asked his followers to ditch Beef to stop Amazon deforestation. He added, “Be a conscious consumer, taking care to support companies committed to responsible supply chains. Eliminate or reduce consumption of beef; cattle ranching is one of the primary drivers of Amazon deforestation.”
People blame President Jair Bolsonaro responsible for Amazon Fires
Many blame President Jair Bolsonaro’s rhetoric as the central factor in the crisis. Less obvious are the ways the conflagration stems from years of slashing government budgets for the environment and dismantling support for indigenous and traditional subsistence communities.
As per people, these fires are human-lit. People are deliberately starting fires in the Amazon Rain forest to illegally deforest indigenous land for cattle ranching
We obtained a video that went viral on Twitter where a Pataxó (an indigenous people in Bahia, Brazil) woman tells the world how the people had come and lit the fire to the forest reserve.
Here is the Translation of what she said, “These assholes came in and burned down [our reservation]… I want all of the media here to see this. For 2 years we’ve fought to preserve [our reservation] & these assholes came in & burned it down. They are killing our rivers, our sources of life, & now they have set our reserve on fire. Tomorrow we are closing the roads & I want all the media here to see this.”
Evidence shows the president has been building up this fire since JANUARY. This was a CRIME, not an accident.
There were several news articles that were published in the past that could had given early warnings of what Balsonaro’s new government was bringing for the whole world.
We came across multiple articles in this regard. One was titled, “Bolsonaro’s election is catastrophic news for Brazil’s indigenous tribes” by Fiona Watson.
Another Article said, “’He wants to destroy us’: Bolsonaro poses gravest threat in decades, Amazon tribes say.
In yet another article, “Jair Bolsonaro praised the genocide of Indigenous people. Now He’s emboldening attackers of Brazil’s Amazonian Communities.”
There was a yet another article “Bolsonaro threatens survival of Brazil’s Indigenous population”.
All these Articles published in the past point to the policies Bolsonaro won his presidential election last year
International Response on Amazon Fire
The response comes as leaders of countries in the Group of Seven (G7) nations currently meeting in France expressed grave concerns over the fires.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said the G7 was nearing a deal to provide “technical and financial help” to countries affected by the Amazon fires.
The announcement of the $20m assistance package was the most concrete outcome of the three-day G7 summit of major industrialized democracies in Biarritz and aimed to give money to Amazonian nations such as Brazil and Bolivia, primarily to pay for more firefighting planes.
Tensions have risen between France and Brazil after Macron tweeted that the fires burning in the Amazon basin amounted to an international crisis and should be discussed as a top priority at the G7 summit. Bolsonaro reacted by accusing Macron of having a “colonialist mentality”.
Speaking on French TV on Monday night, Macron reiterated that the Amazon was a global issue and intensified his criticism of Bolsonaro.
“We respect your sovereignty. It’s your country,” Macron said. But the trees in the Amazon are “the lungs of the planet”, he added.
“The Amazon forest is a subject for the whole planet. We can help you reforest. We can find the means for your economic development that respects the natural balance. But we cannot allow you to destroy everything.”
He also acknowledged that Europe, by importing soya from Brazil, was not without blame for the agricultural pressure on the rainforest, saying: “We are partly complicit.”
Macron said he hoped for the sake of the Brazilian people “that they will very soon have a president who behaves in the right way”.
UN Spokesperson said, “The health of all these massive, massive forests is critical for the wellbeing of humanity.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with Brazilian President Bolsonaro and offered to help put out the Amazon fires. The offer was accepted. Israel will send Brazil a team to help combat the flames.
Colombian President Ivan Duque said on Sunday he would seek a conservation pact with other Amazonian countries – first in bi-lateral meetings in Peru this week and then at the United Nations General Assembly.
“Colombia wants to lead a pact, a conservation pact, between the countries that have Amazon territory,” Duque said after meeting with an indigenous community in the Amazonian city of Leticia in southern Colombia. “We must understand the protection of our Mother Earth and our Amazon is a duty, a moral duty.”
Letter written by Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament
Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament have written to Commissioner Malmström to say we will not support EU-Mercosur trade deal unless:
1. deforestation is curbed
2. conservation policies reintroduced &
3. rights of indigenous people respected by Brazil Government.
In a letter signed by 15 Liberal Democrats in EU Parliament on 23-August 2019, they criticized Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. As per the accusation, Bolsonaro has facilitated a huge spike in deforestation in the Amazon rain forest, which has global environmental implications and threatens our ability to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.
As per the letter, “Reports suggest that deforestation in July was triple that of a year ago. Farmers continue to organize “fire days” to clear land, while Bolsonaro disgracefully blames environmental NGOs for destructive wildfires.”
“Commissioner, the lungs of our planet are literally burning and we cannot stand back and let that continue.”
As per the signed letter MEPs said, “Unless Brazil agrees to honour its environmental commitments, it is highly unlikely that we will agree to vote to ratify the provisional EU-Mercosur trade agreement.”
Concerns expressed on Bolsonaro policies before Amazon Fire
Bolsonaro repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the Paris Agreement during his campaign. Even before taking office, he backed out of Brazil’s offer to host the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference. Ernesto Araújo, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed by Bolsonaro, has called global warming a plot by “cultural Marxists” and has eliminated the Climate Change Division of the ministry. Two departments of the Ministry of the Environment dealing with climate change and mitigation and one dealing with deforestation have also been eliminated.
President Bolsonaro met with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting on digital economy at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, 28 June 2019
In June 2019, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was concerned about deforestation in the Amazon rain forest and would seek “straight talk with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro on the upcoming G20 summit in Osaka”. She also said that the situation “does not affect the imminent free trade agreement between Mercosur and the EU”. After French President Emmanuel Macron conditioned France’s support for a trade accord between the European Union and Mercosul to Brazil remaining in the Paris Agreement, Bolsonaro said that Brazil “will not leave the Paris Agreement” in their meeting at the G20 Osaka, also inviting Macron to visit Brazil’s Amazon region.
During a conversation with journalists in July 2019, Bolsonaro lashed out at European leaders, saying that the Amazon belongs to Brazil and European countries can mind their own business because they have already “destroyed their environment”. He also said: “We preserve more [rainforest] than anyone. No country in the world has the moral right to talk about Amazon.”
During the 2019 Brazil wildfires, Bolsonaro in August 2019 accused (without providing any evidence) that non-governmental organizations had started the forest fires, due to a reduction of government funding to the NGOs. Environmental and climate experts described Bolsonaro’s accusation as a “smokescreen” to hide his own government’s rolling back of protections for the Amazon. They instead attributed the fires to farmers clearing land.
On 22 August 2019, Bolsonaro accused Macron of having “a misplaced colonialist mentality in the 21st century” in reference to criticism by the French president, where he called on G7 leaders to discuss the Amazon crisis. He also said “regret that the French president seeks to instrumentalize an internal issue of Brazil and other Amazonian countries for personal political gains.”[clarification needed] He added that “the Brazilian government remains open to dialogue, based on objective data and mutual respect.” Macron stated he will refuse to ratify the European Union–Mercosur Free Trade Agreement unless Brazil commits to protecting the environment. Bolsonaro’s Facebook comments mocking Brigitte Macron’s looks escalated diplomatic clash. It even seemed “the worst diplomatic crisis between France and Brazil in 40 years”. Macron pointed out that the French overseas territory of French Guiana on the northern coast of South America is France’s biggest land border.
Earth Alliance’s Emergency Amazon Forest Fund
Earth Alliance, an organization to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, launched Tuesday with founding co-chairs actor Leonardo DiCaprio, businesswoman and philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs and investor and philanthropist Brian Sheth.
The Earth Alliance pools the resources of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (founded by DiCaprio), Emerson Collective (founded by Powell Jobs) and Global Wildlife Conservation (chaired by Sheth). According to a press release, an independent management team of scientists and conservationists will lead the Alliance in its efforts to protect ecosystems and wildlife, ensure climate justice, support renewable energy and secure indigenous rights.
Leonardo DiCaprio has donated $5 milion dollars to battle the Amazon fires.
After launching Sunday, the organization’s emergency Amazon Forest Fund is working to support local partners and indigenous communities in their efforts to protect the sensitive habitats within the Amazon. The funds will be donated to five local organizations: Instituto Associacao Floresta Protegida (Kayapo), Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), Instituto Kabu (Kayapo), Instituto Raoni (Kayapo) and Instituto Socioambiental (ISA).
Amazon Fire Fighting starts
Bolsonaro announced the military would be sent in on Friday after several days of criticism from the public and world leaders that Brazil’s government was not doing anything to fight the fires. As of Sunday, President Jair Bolsonaro had authorized military operations in seven states to combat raging fires in the Amazon, responding to requests for assistance from their local governments, a spokeswoman for his office said.
Brazilian warplanes are dumping water on the burning forest in the Amazon state of Rondonia, responding to a global outcry over the destruction of the world’s largest tropical rain forest.
Lionel Messi has reportedly hired 4 Jets with a capacity of carrying 80,000 litres of water to help combat the Amazon Fire.
Controversial Election of Jair Messias Bolsonaro, President of Brazil
Jair Messias Bolsonaro is a Brazilian politician and retired military officer, serving as the 38th President of Brazil since 1 January 2019. As in action movies, Bolsonaro was stabbed in the abdomen on 6 September 2018 while campaigning and interacting with supporters in the city of Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais (or was it pre-planned, no one knows). Because of the sympathy wave, Bolsonaro won and was elected with 55.1% of the vote.
Another highly controversial aspect of the campaign was the alleged use of illegal digital communication strategies by some of Bolsonaro’s most important financial supporters. According to an investigation by Folha de S.Paulo, one of Brazil’s bestselling newspapers, “Bolsonaro has been getting an illegal helping hand from a group of Brazilian entrepreneurs who are bankrolling a campaign to bombard WhatsApp users with fake news about [Fernando] Haddad.” The suspicions led to a formal investigation by electoral authorities and the Federal Police; Bolsonaro and allies denied any wrongdoing.
Policies of Bolsonaro responsible for Amazon Fires
As per article published in time.com titled “The Real Reason the Amazon Is On Fire” blamed Brazilian President Bolsonaro and his policies responsible for the Amazon Fire.
According to The Washington Post, “Bolsonaro is a powerful supporter of agribusiness […] and is likely to favor profits over preservation. […] Bolsonaro has chafed at foreign pressure to safeguard the Amazon rainforest, and he served notice to international nonprofit groups such as the World Wildlife Fund that he will not tolerate their agendas in Brazil. He has also come out strongly against lands reserved for indigenous tribes. Bolsonaro advisers additionally say that he plans to expand nuclear and hydroelectric power into the Amazon.”
In April 2019, Bolsonaro continued the trend, cutting IBAMA’s budget by 24%. Those cuts left the agency unable to cover its fixed costs and left it without resources for patrolling and enforcement.
A spokesperson for IBAMA says that its budget has been reinstated to what it was prior to the April cuts. Nonetheless, thus far in 2019, IBAMA has issued only one third of the fines it did over the same period last year, according to Folha de São Paulo, one of Brazil’s largest newspapers. The drop is likely a result of both a lack of funding and political will. Earlier this year, Bolsonaro had IBAMA fire an agent, who happened to have fined Bolsonaro years ago for illegal fishing.
In April 2019, the American Museum of Natural History canceled an event honoring Bolsonaro after facing heavy public criticism, including from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Destruction of the Amazon rainforest increased by 88% for the month of June 2019, and 278% increase in deforestation in July during Bolsonaro’s first year as president, as compared with the previous year, according to National Institute for Space Research (INPE). Bolsonaro has rejected the agency’s data as false. Bolsonaro fired the agency’s head, suggesting that the data were false and trumped up in order to tarnish the country’s image.
Brazil’s strong agriculture sector has ratcheted up pressure on forests. Agriculture has been the strongest performing sector of Brazil’s economy in recent years, and the US-China trade war has positioned Brazil well to replace the US as the global leader in soybean exports. The demand for soybeans has created pressure to rapidly clear forests and plant. Jair Bolsonaro’s oldest son, Flávio Bolsonaro, a senator, has introduced a bill that would eliminate a requirement that rural properties in the Amazon maintain 80% of their native vegetation.
Meanwhile, the president has regularly challenged criticism about his government’s environmental policies in a way some see as condoning deforestation. “The Amazon is ours,” Bolsonaro told journalists in mid-July. “We preserve more [rainforest] than anyone. No country in the world has the moral right to talk about the Amazon. You destroyed your own ecosystems.”
Fabiano Lopez da Silva, head of Fundação Vitoria Amazonica, an environmental non-governmental organization based in Manaús, says such rhetoric stimulates illegal deforestation. “[Farmers and illegal loggers] can go forward with illegal fires. There won’t be any sort of [fiscal enforcement] or monitoring or fines for this kind of activity,” says Lopez da Silva.
The Bolsonaro administration has decreased government efforts which combat illegal logging, ranching and mining in the Amazon. Government enforcement actions such fines, warnings and the confiscation or destruction of illegal equipment in protected areas have decreased by 20% in the first half of the year as compared to the first half of the previous year.
There are indications that these latest fires may have at least in part been the result of political acts. Farmers and ranchers in the region organized what they called “a day of fire” for Aug. 10, where they would set forests aflame to clear land for pasture and planting. Their goal, according to the outlet, was to show Bolsonaro they wanted to work, and burning down trees was the way to do that. In the following 48 hours, forest fires spread rapidly in the region. Farmers set the bulk of these fires.
When IBAMA agents patrol the countryside looking for illegal logging and other violations, military police generally accompany them to ensure their safety, since Brazil ranks as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental activists. But this year, shortly after demonstrations near Novo Progresso where farmers burned bridges and tires to protest IBAMA’s enforcement actions, the state military police were removed from this detail. Though the police respond to the state government, it’s hard not to see removing police protection as tacit permission to break the law.
On Aug. 23, Bolsonaro made a televised speech to announce “zero tolerance” for environmental crimes, and said Brazil would deploy its armed forces to cope with the forest fires. In the same speech, however, he reaffirmed the need to provide economic opportunity to the Amazon region’s population, and there’s little indication that Bolsonaro will pull back his support for expanding mining operations and large-scale farming in the region.
That’s just more bad news for the Amazon’s indigenous people, whose lands are some of the best preserved in the region. One of Bolsonaro’s first official acts as president in early 2019 was to transfer the agency charged with supporting indigenous people, FUNAI, under the Ministry of Agriculture. Analysts say this weakens the agency’s ability to protect indigenous territories. Along with suggesting that indigenous territory could be opened up for mining, Bolsonaro has also threatened to halt the certification of any new indigenous settlements.
Obviously, this is devastating for indigenous people. But it’s also potentially catastrophic for the environment. According to a recent United Nations report, strong land rights for indigenous communities help form a bulwark against climate change. In Brazil, for example, indigenous territories are constitutionally protected. This helps maintain the forest by discouraging encroachment by farmers, miners and loggers.
As per Joenia Wapichana, the first indigenous woman elected to Brazil’s senate, “the Bolsonaro government has “persecuted” indigenous people by attempting to halt the processes that define the boundaries of indigenous territories. The FUNAI website lists 440 fully recognized indigenous territories in Brazil. Another 127 have crossed the first hurdle in the demarcation process while a further 115 have yet to move past the initial study required to begin applying for recognition.”
Once these boundaries are established, non-indigenous Brazilians are barred from using the land, creating buffer zones against deforestation.
Brazil’s traditional subsistence communities and settlements established by the descendants of formerly enslaved people represent another shield against deforestation. Traditional communities are generally the descendants of European settlers who practice small-scale agriculture as well as producing goods from materials that can be harvested sustainably from the forest. In Montanha e Mangabal, a government-certified “traditional community” with approximately 250 residents in Pará, many of the community’s residents support themselves by producing oils from native plants, fishing, and raising yucca roots to make flour. The community’s presence deters deforestation, “[Traditional] communities are always there watching. You can’t come here and attack the environment, take lumber.”
Unfortunately, these communities are at risk thanks to federal defunding of environmental protection, public education, and public healthcare. Community members must travel more than 140 miles to the city of Itaituba for any serious health issues.
“When you enter these more remote areas,” says André Cutrim, a professor of environmental resource management at the Federal University of Pará, “these are places where the state’s power, judicial power doesn’t reach.” The result, he says, is that it’s easier to cut down trees or to start fires illegally—and harder for an already hamstrung environmental agency to operate in the face of violence and lawlessness. This enables land grabbers to deforest and farm regardless of what the law permits.
Cutrim says the Bolsonaro government is stoking passions with its rhetoric. “The message of the current government isn’t conciliatory. It’s a message of confrontation,” he says. This, Cutrim sustains, makes Bolsonaro’s supporters feel authorized to pursue their own interests, even if that means setting fire to one of the country’s treasures.
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