There’s been a significant increase in wildfires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest and the surrounding areas, and it’s gotten so bad that the damage can now be seen from space.
New data released by the country’s space research agency is bringing more attention to what’s going on after a blackout in São Paulo on Monday sparked concerns, particularly since São Paulo is more than 1,700 miles away from the rainforest. You can see the full map here (opens in new tab).
Many are also criticizing both Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro for his reaction to the fires and the lack of global response compared to the outcry when the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France, caught fire (opens in new tab) earlier this year.
Here’s what’s really going on in Brazil and its surrounding locations, and how to help the areas affected by the fire right now.
The Amazon rainforest is burning.
That much is obvious, if you’ve spent 10 seconds looking at the video clips coming out of Brazil this week.
🌎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/P1DrCzQO6xAugust 20, 2019
Just a reminder that the amazon rainforest has been ON FIRE. For 3 weeks with the media just barely covering it now . Think of all the wildlife and their homes that are being destroyed during this tragedy. #PrayForAmazonía https://t.co/0hcYLz8HPaAugust 21, 2019
The fires are getting much, much worse.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) now reports that satellite data (opens in new tab) shows an 84% increase in 2019 wildfires compared to last year. The institute also reports that there’s been an 88% increase in deforestation in the Amazon, which is terrible news for the environment and the rainforests.
The European Union’s satellite program shows that the smoke from the fires can now be seen from space, because it’s gotten that bad.
The scale of the Siberian wildfires is underlined by this animation of the huge area of the smoke cloud: more than 5 million km². For comparison, the EU is about 4.5 million km² and the contiguous US about 8.1 million km². (Via @anttilip of @IlmaTiede)pic.twitter.com/RDhntqaDEOAugust 12, 2019
Here‘s how the Amazon rainforest fires started in the first place.
During dry season in Brazil, wildfires often start in the rainforest. That is nothing new. The difference this time is the fires have been worse than normal and some of them might have questionable origins.
The INPE (mentioned above) says that it has caught 72,000 fires this year already and more than 9,500 in the past week, which is extremely abnormal. In 2018, it registered fewer than 40,000 fires, so 2019 is already much worse before the year is even over.
Express (opens in new tab) alleges that some of the fires have been “deliberately” started to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching, but Jair Bolsonaro has another theory.
Brazil‘s president is blaming NGOs, for some reason.
Jair Bolsonaro is a controversial president to begin with, especially when it comes to environmental regulations, but he took it to another level Wednesday by saying that non-governmental organizations could be burning the rainforest (opens in new tab) on purpose to shame the government after Jair cut their funding.
It’s one hell of a conspiracy theory that simultaneously has little to do with the criticized environmental policies that Bolsonaro implemented, which is part of why it has people so angry.
According to CNN (opens in new tab), “federal interference” in Brazil is making it easier for people to exploit the rainforest, and Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency’s operations have gone down since Bolsonaro was sworn in.
Here‘s how to help the rainforest, even if you don‘t live in Brazil.
You don’t have to be a firefighter or climate change activist on the ground in Brazil to help preserve the Amazon rainforest. There are plenty of options, so check them out.
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Alexandra Whittaker oversees all of Cosmo's news and entertainment digital coverage—follow her on Instagram (opens in new tab)here. As the lead of two teams, Alexandra manages stellar writers and editors who deliver your daily dose of celebrity, TV, movie, book, general entertainment and pop culture news. She's known for her strategic coverage calls and celebrity interviewing skills. Awards shows are her favorite thing, and she’s a proud Northwestern and Marquette alumna.
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