Brazil’s Amazon rainforest under greater threat of fire this year amid pandemic

Brazil's Amazon under greater threat of fire this year amid pandemic - We The World Magazine

Satelite data of the world’s largest rainforests of the Amazon in Brazil under an imminent threat of devastation from forest fires, on a larger scale than the historic hight fires of last year.

Images taken from satellite confirms forest fires in Brazilian Amazon rose 28% from last year’s July, Agence France Presse reports, triggering fears of yet another year of devastation in the ‘ling of the earth.

Last year, more than 1 million hectares of land were burnt from fires, according to Greenpeace, and fires are far from over. According to the environmental activist group, under the government of far-right President Bolsonaro, Brazil’s environment protection laws have been compromised so that forests can be burnt freely.

Brazil’s national space agency INPE identified 6,803 rainforest fire hotspots in the region this month, an uptick from last year’s 5,318 burning hotspots. On July 30 alone, INEP satellites identified 1,007 fires.

AFP noted, last year’s ravaging fires, which was worst in thirteen years, incited a global outcry, and the Brazilian government was pressurized since the nation holds 60% of the Amazon rainforest.

Environment activism groups have time and again accused the Bolsonaro-led government of downplaying urgent climate crises like the Amazon rainforest burning which is mostly set by illegal poachers to clear more land for commercial activities.

The state of Mato Grosso in Brazil has the highest number of forest fire this year (Image courtesy of Christian Braga / Greenpeace) / Brazil’s Amazon rainforest under greater threat of fire this year amid pandemic

Noticing the outcry and the rampant climate emergency, a coalition of 29 global investment firms have recently conditioned the Brazilian government to stop the escalating deforestation.

“The escalating deforestation in recent years, combined with reports of a dismantling of environmental and human rights policies and enforcement agencies, are creating widespread uncertainty about the conditions for investing in or providing financial services to Brazil,” the letter sent to the government read, Reuters reported.

Bane of the indigenous

Brazilian rainforests are home to hundreds of thousands of indigenous people who live a vulnerable life to modern-day issues including climate change and poaching that threatens their territory and integrity.

Increasing poaching activities in the interiors of the rainforests have time and again posed existential threats to these vulnerable communities who live a life secluded from modern civilization.

In May this year, a number of high-profile celebrities including Brad Pitt, Madonna, Oprah Winfrey, and other photojournalists and environmentalists sent an open letter to the Brazilian government urging to spare the indigenous tribes from the bane of COVID-19.

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Yet again, illegal intrusion activities in the protected territories triggered imminent risk of a ‘genocide’ caused by a spread of the novel coronavirus from poachers to these underprepared communities.

“We are on the eve of a genocide. Indigenous communities have never been so under attack … The government has no respect at all for the indigenous territories,” photojournalist Sebastião Salgad who led the effort was quoted as saying.

Now, with the exacerbating risk of forest fires touching greater heights in the region, experts fear the smoke, coupled with the ravaging pandemic that attacks the respiratory system will pose a twin threat to the indigenous communities.

“The smoke from the fires will put their respiratory system at even higher risk during a time when access to healthcare is limited in remote areas in the Amazon,” according to Greenpeace.

Brazil is already heavily battered from the SARS-CoVI-2 virus that causes the COVID-19. The national caseload of Brazil is the second highest in the world at more than 2.6 million cases, dwarfed only by the US with nearly 5 million cases.

(Cover image courtesy of Christian Braga for Greenpeace)