The ongoing fires in the Amazon rainforest are now so bad that the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) said its satellite data showed an 84 per cent increase on the same period in 2018.
Over recent days, the world has been shocked by photos of São Paulo, almost 2000 miles from the fires, completely in darkness in the middle of the afternoon due to ash.
While these facts are shocking, and wildfires are common in the Amazon during the summer, experts believe that the fires have been started by humans in order to deforest land for cattle ranching.
Reportedly, the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has “encouraged” farmers and loggers to start fires to clear the land. According to scientists, the rainforest has been disappearing at an accelerated rate since he took office in just January.
A new, shocking photo of Brazil from the air uses red dots to show where significant fires are raging. The sheer amount of red on the photo isn’t the full story, but it demonstrates just how widespread and disastrous these fires are.
Conservationists have criticised Bolsonaro for his response to the fires and for his potential part in their setting.
There have been more than 9,500 forest fires since Thursday, mostly in the Amazon, yet Bolsonaro blamed the fires on “criminal action” by people seeking revenge.
He was also quoted by Reuters as saying:
I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame.
Last month, he accused Inpe of lying about the scale of deforestation in the Amazon. Bolsonaro has been widely criticised for his environmental policies and scaling back of systems set in place to protect the rainforest.