The Amazon rainforest has broken an unfortunate record this year, with almost 73,000 fires occurring all in Brazil between January and August, which is an 83 percent increase from 2018, according to the National Institute for Space Research. More than half of the reported fires this year are said to be located in the Amazon.
And it’s far from being over. The institute reported that 9,500 new fires were spotted by satellite images since last Thursday, mostly in Brazil’s Amazon basin.
According to Al Jazeera, the fires are so bad that they caused a cloud of thick black smog to hang over Sao Paulo on Monday, drifting in from over 1,670 miles away and blocking out the sun.
The dire situation has prompted global criticism of Brazilian President Jair Bolsoaro, who took office in January, for his policy on climate change and Amazon protection.
Although Brazil’s president denied responsibility for setting the Amazon on fire, and explained that the phenomenon is nothing but the result of farmers clearing out land, experts said that the increased deforestation is the trigger for the blazes.
According to Matador Network’s Noelle Salmi, “Bolsonaro has called climate change a hoax, says efforts to curb deforestation of the Amazon — which provides over 20 percent of the world’s oxygen — are funded by foreign powers aiming to halt Brazil’s economic development, and wants to lift protections for the indigenous peoples who live in the rainforest.” Bolsonaro has big plans to cut down the rainforest so that the land can be used for mining and farming.