Amazon rainforest burns at a record rate, raises int'l concern - pictures

As the pressure mounted on the Brazilian president last week, he blamed NGOs for the fires and told the world not to interfere.

By
August 25, 2019 15:24
4 minute read.
A tract of Amazon jungle is seen after a fire in Boca do Acre, Amazonas state, Brazil August 24, 201

A tract of Amazon jungle is seen after a fire in Boca do Acre, Amazonas state, Brazil August 24, 2019. (photo credit: BRUNO KELLY/REUTERS)

As the Amazon rainforest burns at a record rate, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro deployed the army on Saturday to tackle the wildfires following international criticism.

An aerial view of a tract of the Amazon jungle burning as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Boca do Acre, Amazonas state, Brazil August 24, 2019 (BRUNO KELLY/REUTERS)

An aerial view of a deforested plot of the Amazon in Boca do Acre, Amazonas state, Brazil August 24, 2019 ( BRUNO KELLY/REUTERS)

"More than 43,000 Air Force troops will reinforce the activities for combating Amazon burns," Brazil's defense minister reported. Modular Airborne Fire Fighting systems, which are attached to planes and carry up to 12,000 liters of water, were deployed to the area on Saturday in an attempt to contain the damage.

According to Brazil's National Institute of Space Research (INPE), fires in the South American county increased by 84% between 2018 and 2019, a large number of which could not be attributed to the dry season or natural phenomena alone. In addition, the institute also reported a significant increase in deforestation, leading Bolsonaro to fire the institute's director, claiming that they were "made up numbers," Brazilian media reported.

A tract of the Amazon jungle burns as it is cleared by loggers and farmers in Porto Velho, Brazil August 24, 2019 (UESLEI MARCELINO/REUTERS)

A truck loaded with logs cut from an area of the Amazon rainforest is seen in Boca do Acre, Amazonas state, Brazil August 24, 2019 ( BRUNO KELLY/REUTERS)

A tract of Amazon jungle is seen after a fire in Boca do Acre, Amazonas state, Brazil August 24, 2019 (BRUNO KELLY/REUTERS)

A tract of Amazon jungle is seen after a fire in Boca do Acre, Amazonas state, Brazil August 24, 2019 (BRUNO KELLY/REUTERS)

As the pressure mounted on the Brazilian president last week, he blamed NGOs for the fires and told the world not to interfere.

A snake is seen while a tract of the Amazon jungle burns as it is cleared by loggers and farmers in Porto Velho, Brazil August 24, 2019 (UESLEI MARCELINO/REUTERS)

The carcass of a cow lies along a tract of the Amazon jungle as it is cleared by loggers and farmers in Porto Velho, Brazil August 24, 2019 (UESLEI MARCELINO/REUTERS)

When asked about the spread of the fires, Bolsonaro first told reporters that it is the time of the year of the "queimada" or burn. Later, he accused in a video posted on Twitter that NGOs are plotting against him and purposely setting fire to the Amazon. When French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he would take the issue to the upcoming G7 meeting on Thursday, calling the wildfires an "international crisis," Bolsonaro took to Twitter to criticize the French leader.

"The French president's suggestion that Amazonian issues should be discussed at the G7 meeting without the participation of the countries of the region, evokes a displaced colonialist mindset in the 21st century."



US President Donald Trump said he spoke with Bolsonaro on Friday and offered help, if needed, in dealing with the Amazon rainforest fires.

In a speech that day, Bolsonaro sent a "message to Brazil and the world on the Brazilian Amazon and the disinformation campaign built against our nation's sovereignty," in which he stated that, "protecting the forest is our duty."

"We are aware of our duty and we are working to combat illegal deforestation and all other criminal activities that put our Amazon at risk," he said.


Last week, an apocalyptic darkness descended on the megalopolis of Sao Paulo, unnerving locals and triggering a fierce debate between meteorologists and climatologists over its exact cause.

Some researchers argued that the hazy gloom was the result of the combination of a cold front over the city coupled with smoke from fires in the Amazon, more than a thousand miles away.

Reuters contributed to this story.

Protesters hold a Brazilian flag with the letters SOS written on it during a demonstration to demand for more protection for the Amazon rainforest, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 23, 2019 ( NACHOS DOCE / REUTERS)

A protester holds a sign with the names of various indigenous tribes during a demonstration to demand for more protection for the Amazon rainforest, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 23, 2019 (NACHOS DOCE / REUTERS)


Demonstrators of environmental organizations take part in a rally in front to the embassy of Brazil in demand to more Amazon protection in Santiago, Chile August 23, 2019. (RODRIGO GARRIDO/REUTERS)


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