The sky of Sao Paulo darkened suddenly in the middle of Monday afternoon. Although the largest Brazilian city suffers a lot from pollution, the skies were blackened by the smoke of fires in the Amazon, which has been burning for 16 days.
Sao Paulo is at a distance of 2,700 kilometers from the city of Manaus, capital of the Amazon. Even so, the strong winds pushed the lung fumes of the world into the metropolis with 12 million inhabitants.
Faced with a lack of reaction from authorities, including President Jair Bolsonaro, the townspeople and the rest of Brazilians took the case to Twitter, saying no one was paying attention to the fact that the forest had been burning for two weeks.
What impressed the inhabitants of São Paulo was precisely the fact that the Amazon is 2,735 kilometers from the city, writes the BBC. The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has stated that during these 16 days more than 20,000 hectares of vegetation have been consumed, and that three million species of fauna and flora, as well as one million indigenous people living isolated in the forest.
"It was as if the day had turned into night," one resident told the BBC, "it was impressive." However, the inhabitants were not alone in noticing the presence of something strange. NASA captured several space images on August 11th and 13th, where they could see blazes of fire and smoke in the cities of Amazonas, Rondônia, Pará and Mato Grosso.
Ricardo Mello, head of the Amazonia program at the WWF Foundation, revealed that these fires are "a consequence of the increase in deforestation that has been seen in recent figures." However, the state of Amazonas, covered by almost all the rainforest, has already declared a state of emergency due to these fires.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (#MODIS) on @NASA'S Aqua satellite captured these images of several fires burning in the states of Rondonia, Amazonas, Pará, and Mato Grosso on August 11 and 13, 2019. #PrayforAmazonia https://t.co/n0uaOXJTAW pic.twitter.com/4ROQSSaCor
– ˈ𝐤𝐞𝐥-𝐯ə𝐧 (@KelvinCasamayor) August 21, 2019
Scientists studying the forest zone say the Amazon has suffered losses at a rapid pace since Jair Bolsonaro took over the presidency of Brazil earlier this year to benefit loggers and miners.
Since his candidacy, Bolsonaro has taken an anti-environmentalist stance, and has been accused of interfering in the largest trade agreement between Brazil and the European Union due to deforestation and for failing to comply with the Paris Agreement, where it was signed. a commitment to slow deforestation.
Although not yet reacting on social networks to the fires, Bolsonaro stated that “before they called me chainsaw captain. Now I'm being accused of setting fire to the Amazon. ” Thus, the Brazilian president continued his defense and declared that it was “Nero! It is Nero setting fire to the Amazon, ”assuming that“ it is the time of the burning there, ”referring to the Roman emperor who set Rome on fire.
Amazon fires increase in 2019: 84% more fires than in 2018
Although burning is common at this time of year in Brazil, some investigators assume that many are the responsibility of criminals, who will be farmers interested in making room for agriculture and livestock with deforestation.
As of August 20, the number of fires in 2019 in the rainforest had increased by 84% over the same period in 2018, with close to 73,000 outbreaks detected, INPE said. Alberto Setzer, a researcher, explained to the Brazilian newspaper 'Estadão' that this year's climate is drier than last year, but that he doesn't believe the fires have a natural origin. “At this time of year there is no natural fire. All of these burns originate in human activity, whether accidental or purposeful. It's not the weather's fault, it just creates the conditions, but someone sets the fire, ”said Setzer.
The number of fire outbreaks in Brazil is the highest in the last seven years and several activists have accused Bolsonaro on social media of being silent about what is happening. “People are asking me to put the army to fight. Does anyone know the size of the Amazon? ”Said Bolsonaro.
INPE reported that deforestation in the Amazon grew 88% in June and 278% in July compared with the same period in 2018. Mark Parrington, an expert, told the Vice newspaper that Amazon fires release an average of 500 tonnes. carbon dioxide for one year. So far, tropical forest fires have released 200 tons of carbon dioxide.
The Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest in the world and has the largest biodiversity recorded in one area of the planet, and is responsible for providing 20% of oxygen to the planet. It is about five and a half million square kilometers and includes territories of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.