The recent wildfires in the Amazon rainforest have sparked global calls for Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, to do more to protect the biggest forest in the world. Bolsonaro, however, wants other countries to stay out of what he believes to be Brazilian affairs, rejecting the idea that the Amazon is the “lungs of the world” and belongs to everyone.
“It is a fallacy,” he said at the United Nations in New York, “to say that the Amazon is the heritage of humankind, and a misconception confirmed by scientists to say that our Amazon forests are the lungs of the world. Using and resorting to these fallacies, certain countries, instead of helping…behaved in a disrespectful manner and with a colonialist spirit. They even called into question that which we hold as a most sacred value, our sovereignty.”
Bolsonaro is referring to the widespread criticism he endured in the wake of the fires, and his perceived inability to act as a steward for one of the world’s most important ecosystems. The forest fires are largely believed to be caused by farmers and loggers clearing land for crops and grazing — a practice that Bolsonaro has supported.