The Amazon rainforest has been burning for weeks. There are very few numbers or confirmed details about the fires (which is probably the reason no big media outlets are talking about it), but the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) said its satellite data showed an 83% increase of fires on the same period in 2018. Earlier this month, the Brazilian state of Amazonas declared a state of emergency over a rising number of fires in the region.
Culprits: Extreme drought and the Brazilian Donald Trump
A rainforest doesn’t usually burn that easy (because of rain, you know), but the Amazon is now in its annual dry period. This year’s dry season is extreme and even worse than usual, which makes it easier for fires to spread. The cause of that drought is, you guessed it; global warming. The bad news is that the dry season has only just started. Typically, the dry season arrives in August and stops around November, with its peak in early September.
On top of that, there’s also Brazil’s new president Bolsonaro, who is an advocate of deforesting the Amazon for economic growth (farming, mining, …). Bolsonaro, who’s also being called the Brazilian Donald Trump, also cut a lot of the budgets for organizations that help preserve the Amazon. One of the first things he did when he became president was firing the entire board that controls the Amazon Fund. Conservationists have blamed Mr Bolsonaro, saying he has encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land by burning it down. Bolsonaro himself brushed off the latest data, saying it is the “season of the queimada”, when farmers use fire to clear land.
As a result of that, countries like Norway and Germany, who used to donate millions to Brazil’s Amazon Fund, have stopped their support to the organization. The oil-rich Norway nation (by far the biggest donor to the Amazon Fund) has provided $1.1bn to Brazil’s Amazon Fund since 2008.