Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is currently burning at a record rate.
Deforestation is deadly. Named the lungs of the planet, the Amazon produces around 20% of Earth’s oxygen which is essential for life. Forests like the Amazon also store enormous amounts of carbon and therefore the health of these ecosystems are vital to limit future warming and to protect the planet against catastrophic climate change. Deforestation in the Amazon will also have a significant impact on regional weather patterns.
These events are occurring at a time where environmental protection is being ignored in favour of exploration, mining and agribusiness. Driven by human consumption, these activities are putting profit over people and planetary health.
The Diocese of the Amazon’s Bishop Marinez Bassotto shares:
“We are facing the worst wave of fires in Brazil in seven years. For over two weeks, forests and woods have been burning in flames in the northern states, spanning Acre, Para, Amapá, Amazonas, Rondonia, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, including areas of the Amazon and Pantanal. Four of these states are (Acre, Amazonas, Amapá and Pará) are part of the Anglican Diocese of the Amazon.
The most unusual thing about this fire wave is that the large concentration of fires is happening right in the Amazon. In 2019 52.5% of the outbreaks of fires of the Brazil have occurred in the Amazon. It should also be brought to attention that these fires are increasing soon after the president criticized the INPE (National Institute for Space Research) and dismissed its coordinator because the institute was alerting about increasing deforestation and outbreaks of fires.
The fires have already reached the triple border between Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, consuming more than 21,000 hectares of vegetation.
On August 10, groups of farmers from southern Pará state organized the “Fire Day” in the Amazon.
[Wildfires often occur during Brazil’s dry season; however, farmers will also be started illegally to clear land for cattle ranching. According to Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in every Amazon country, accounting for 80% of current deforestation rates. Brazil is the largest exporter of cattle, supplying about one quarter of the global market.]
During the weekend of August 10 and 11, these farmers began to announce the burnings, and this did not only happen in southern Pará state, it happened in many other areas of the Amazon as a kind of backing reaction to the president, Dry weather and strong wind helped to spread the flames.
The total silence of the presidency of the republic [of Brazil] about these criminal burnings draws attention. Besides not acting to investigate and blame the culprits, the President of the Republic makes ironies about the situation of the Amazon, encourages deforestation and mining in the region, does not undertake environmental protection actions. His statements inform that he will deliver indigenous lands to exploration and agribusiness and still try to blame the NGOs responsible for environmental protection for the fires.
This whole conjuncture has resulted in a huge catastrophe and the devastation of part of the Amazon biome, indigenous populations are suffering and being killed, animals are burning alive, it is an unprecedented devastation.
The amount of smoke in the air is so great that on August 19 in southern and southeastern states of Brazil, such as Sao Paulo, the day turned into night at 3 pm and the sky darkened with a smokescreen. The air is unbreathable in many cities in northern and southeastern Brazil.
None of our communities in the Anglican Diocese of Amazonia has been hit directly, but we are all in deep pain and suffering as the Amazon burns.
Your prayers are welcome and publicizing these facts on social media as widely as possible will greatly help to pressure the Brazilian government to take investigative actions and also international pressure may compel the government to hold the culprits accountable.