The latest hashtag to go viral and trend on the internet is #PrayforAmazonia while fires continue to ravage the Brazilian Rainforest.
As reported by EuroNews, these fires, which have been going for weeks in the states of Rondônia, Amazonas, Pará, and Mato Grosso, have become so bad that Amazonas was forced to declare a state of emergency earlier this month. Smoke from these fires was reported to be so thick that it actually blocked out sunlight in places across the country, including São Paulo. The fires were captured a week ago by NASA’s Aqua satellite – and they are terrifying to see the massive scale.
Map below shows extension of fires currently happening in the state of Rondônia in Brazil (which is under a thick smoke and where people have been dying), and in Bolivia, both in the Amazon region. Fires are intentional, started by farmers to open up land. https://t.co/1TDPRP04JW
— Dani (@danimadu) August 19, 2019
Many people have expressed concern over effects that the fires will pose for residents, animal life, as well as the natural landscape. As reported by Reuters, these fires have promoted major criticism of Jair Bolsonaro, of Brazil’s far-right president who’s dismissed the severity of the fires.
Brazil’s president is doing nothing to stop what is happening with the Amazon Rainforest. My heritage is from Brazil and it is so sad to see what is happening, it looks like a movie, but it is now. Y’all pray for Brazil! #PrayforAmazonia Brazil is destroying Brasil 😪 pic.twitter.com/vwpB6jfgLu
— Maria 🥀 (@BarrosThereza) August 20, 2019
This is the Brazilian environmental policy under president Bolsonaro. He doesn't care about life. The Amazon Rainforest's burning for about 3 weeks and nothing's been done. @BadAstronomer @azmoderate #PrayforAmazonia #PrayforRondonia pic.twitter.com/haIrQzFdk9
— olhaoalho (@olhaoalho) August 20, 2019
“I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame,” Bolsonaro said to reporters regarding the backlash. “But it is the season of the queimada.”
“Season of the queimada” is a reference to the time of year when farmers intentionally set forest fires in order to clear land for agricultural purposes. However, it has been noted that the fires are isolated, while there has been an unprecedented spike in wildfires since Bolsonaro took office early in 2019. While he was campaigning Bolsonaro also promised to roll back protection on not just the rainforest, but also indigenous rights, saying that Brazil’s natural resources should be exploited in a “reasonable way.”
The Amazon Rainforest has been burning for 3 weeks straight and it’s only just being spoken about. Please, help raise awareness of the death and destruction of many types of wildlife. It’s only a matter of time before the whole rainforest is gone. #PrayforAmazonia pic.twitter.com/sk4aM5pt7o
— emma (@its_emmx) August 20, 2019
Earths most important ecosystem has been on fire for two weeks, we just lost the first Icelandic glacier, ocean acidification & heat are at their highest level. We don’t have a couple years anymore, we have months.
— Patrick (@patrickflorez_) August 20, 2019
Data has shown that deforestation in the Amazon has surged since Bolsonaro assumed office. According to a report by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), an estimated 870 square miles of the Amazon rainforest have been destroyed by man-made fires last month, marking a 278-percent increase from July 2018. Bolsonaro called the data “a lie” and then fired INPE’s director Ricardo Galvão.
#BTSARMY The amazon caught 🔥 16 days ago and it still hasn’t stopped. This is bad, Earth’s lungs are in flames.
— BTS Europe 🤟 (@BTS__Europe) August 20, 2019
— G.Bionde14 (@biel_br12) August 20, 2019
As reported by the Guardian, last month Bolsonaro said, “I am convinced the data is a lie. We are going to call the president of INPE here to talk about this and that’s the end of that issue. For the first time in the history of Brazil a president of the republic is looking to fulfill with everything he does what he promised during the campaign. God willing, everything will work, policies like mine will continue in Brazil forever.”
Experts have said that since the Amazon rainforest plays a vital role in stabilizing the world’s carbon emissions, the combined effects of climate change with deforestation can significantly destroy the planet.
So, #PrayforAmazonia because apparently that’s the best that we can do instead of trying to make actual changes to reverse the damage we’ve caused.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.