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How is the world community fighting to save the “lungs” of our planet?

The strongest fires in the Amazon forests have been going on for three weeks, on Tuesday August 20, smog clouds covered the large Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, and the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia (Pray for Amazon) has become a new sad trend. According to official figures, last week the number of fires in the forests of the Amazon exceeded 150 thousand. In Brazil alone, their number has crossed over 70 thousand. In addition to Brazil, fire spread throughout Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay and Colombia. Who is to blame for the global environmental disaster? How do regional governments fight massive fires?

Ecological disaster threatens Brazil because of the strongest forest fires in the Amazon. Experts believe that cutting and burning down the jungle for agricultural development – a course announced by ultra-right president Jair Bolsonaro (port. – Jair Messias Bolsonaro) – led to a record number of outbreaks of fire and dense smog over much of the country. The Brazilian state of Amazonas declared a state of emergency in the southern regions and in its capital, Manaus. For several days, the fire captured new territories.

In this regard, a difficult situation is developing in Bolivia, where farmers traditionally burn plant residues after harvesting to prepare fields for the next crops. According to environmentalists, more than 500 species of fauna were threatened with destruction due to fires in Bolivian territory. Most endangered animals, mammals and reptiles live only in this region. One of the most affected areas is the Chiquitania Forest, where the Tucavaca Nature Reserve is located (in the Santa Cruz department). The national authorities are working to combat fires.

The fires raging in the Amazonian rainforests have already reached record levels. Nearly 73,000 lesions were recorded by the Brazilian National Space Research Center “INPE” on Tuesday. The “INPE” added that 83% more forests are burned this summer than in the same period in 2018. Out of control flame spread to an area of ​​470,000 hectares. According to some reports, the fires reached the border with Paraguay.

A number of ecologists associate the increase in the number of fires with the state policy of Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro. The World Ecological Organization “Greenpeace” believes that such a number of fires is associated with efforts of deforestation – to clear areas from forests for development of mining enterprises or free land for farms. As critics of the Bolsonaro regime note, the Brazilian president is skeptical of environmental issues. In turn, the head of state believes that foreign non-governmental organizations set fire to the forest in Brazil.

Many European leaders have already expressed their concern about the increase in the area of ​​fires in the Amazon. The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson) in his statement said that he was “deeply concerned” about the consequences of the loss of valuable ecosystems in the region. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel (German – Angela Dorothea Merkel) called the current situation emergency and threatening not only Brazil, but the whole world. On August 23, Bolsonaro announced that he intended to attract the military to extinguish fires.

In connection with the fires in Brazil, an international scandal erupted between the ultra-right Latin American leader and the French president. Jair Bolsonaro accused Emmanuel Macron (French – Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron) of interfering in his state’s affairs for political gain. A few days before the statement of Bolsonaro, the French president described what was happening in the Amazon as a “global crisis” and called for the mandatory inclusion of this topic on the agenda of the G7 summit, which was held in the French city of Biarritz at the end of last week. In addition, Emmanuel Macron and the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (Irish – Leo de Varad, English – Leo Eric Varadkar) emphasized that their countries will not ratify the trade agreement between the EU and the MERCOSUR, until then Brazil has proved its readiness take effective measures to extinguish fires. It is worth recalling that the EU and the countries of the MERCOSUR bloc (the common market of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay), after negotiations that lasted more than 20 years, signed a free trade agreement. For the EU, this is the largest trade agreement in the history of the association, which “opens the door” for European business to the market of four countries in South America with a population of about 260 million people.

In turn, Bolsonaro considered the calls of European politicians to discuss the situation with fires in Brazil at the G7 summit in Biarritz (where the Latin American state does not take part), a demonstration of “inappropriate colonialist thinking that has no place in the 21st century”. According to him, the French president wants to use the internal state issue to receive “personal political dividends”. He also added that European countries, that allocate financial resources to preserve the jungle, violate Brazilian sovereignty.

The Bolivian President Evo Morales (Juan Evo Morales Ayma), whose country also suffered from forest fires in the Amazon, turned to the G7 leaders for help in resolving this emergency. The government of Bolivia invited the G7 participants to visit the country and in fact demonstrate their desire to help combating with forest fires in the region. Morales said that he welcomed the position of the leaders of the G7, who had previously expressed their intention to work with countries affected by the fire. The Bolivian leader declared that he had already suspended his election campaign due to the resolution of this situation. The presidential elections in Bolivia are scheduled for October 20, and the current head of state is one of the candidates. On August 23, the Minister of Environment and Water of Bolivia, Carlos Ortuño (Carlos René Ortuño Yáñez), presented official data that the number of fires has significantly decreased over the past week – from more than 8 thousand (August 17) to only 857 (August 23).

From August 8 to 22, the NASA satellite captured frightening shots of increasing the amount of carbon monoxide in the Earth’s atmosphere due to fires in the forests of the Amazon. Based on data obtained at an altitude of 5,500 meters, fires led to carbon emissions 20% above normal. According to the NASA representatives, carbon is a serious air pollutant that can move for long distances and stay in the atmosphere for about a month.

While the media are sorting out who is right and who is to blame, actively discussing this “hot” topic, a large-scale catastrophe is unfolding, because the world’s largest rainforest is vital for providing oxygen to our planet. First Siberia, then the Amazon: where can global warming and human irresponsibility go further?

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