News & Politics

Whom Do You Believe About the Amazon Forest Fires in Brazil?

A fire burns trees and brush along the road to Jacunda National Forest, near the city of Porto Velho in the Vila Nova Samuel region which is part of Brazil's Amazon, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Just how bad are the fires burning in the Amazon rainforest? As with everything else these days, it depends on whom you’re talking to.

The global warming hysterics have latched on to the issue and are predicting cataclysm.

Vox:

But when the smoke dissipates and the flames die down to embers, another perilous threat is looming for the Amazon rainforest. Scientists warn that if enough of the forest is lost, it could enter a spiral of collapse. This is an outcome with global consequences, and if we cross this threshold of deforestation, it could be a point of no return.

That’s one view. Here’s a slightly less hysterical take from BBC:

The northern states of Roraima, Acre, Rondônia and Amazonas have been particularly badly affected.

However, images purported to be of the fires – including some shared under the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia – have been shown to be decades old or not even in Brazil.

Bloomberg reports that more fires are burning in Angola than in Brazil.

Weather Source has recorded 6,902 fires in Angola over the past 48 hours, compared to 3,395 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 2,127 in Brazil. It’s not an uncommon phenomenon for Central Africa.

According to NASA, which operates the Aqua satellite, over 67,000 fires were reported in a one-week period in June last year, as farmers employed slash and burn agriculture to clear land for crops.

Over the last 48 hours, Zambia placed fourth on the list, while Brazil’s neighbor in the Amazon, Bolivia, placed sixth.

There have been nearly 75,000 fires in the Amazon this year, a huge increase over last year. Greens are blaming President Bolsonaro for his pro-growth, anti-environmental policies.

Forest fires are common in the Amazon during the dry season, which runs from July to October. They can be caused by naturally occurring events, such as by lightning strikes, but also by farmers and loggers clearing land for crops or grazing.

Activists say the anti-environment rhetoric of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has encouraged such tree-clearing activities.

In response, Mr Bolsonaro, a long-time climate change sceptic, accused non-governmental organisations of starting the fires themselves to damage his government’s image.

It’s not that fires burning in Central Africa are any better than those in Brazil. The point is that hysterical predictions and pronouncements are mostly misinformation. And that includes both sides in this debate. Bolsonaro’s charge that greens are setting the fires to embarrass him is loony.

The other side isn’t any better. Soccer star Christiano Ronaldo tweeted out a photo that wasn’t even of the Amazon.

Daily Caller:

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo shared an image Aug. 22 on Facebook and Twitter, which included the caption: “It’s our responsibility to help to save our planet.” The photo, which showed a dramatic view of smoke and ash, was taken nearly six years ago in a section of Brazil not connected to the Amazon, according to a photo by The Baltimore Sun at the time.

The post was retweeted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The fires are bad. It’s not good for the rainforest to burn. The record number of fires reflect the policy of Bolsonaro, who ran on a platform to increase the exploitation of the Amazon. Part of that plan allows for more slash and burn agriculture. Is that really a good idea?

The Amazon rainforest supplies about 20% of the entire planet’s oxygen. Most Amazon countries recognize the importance of the region to the environmental health of the earth and limit the amount of land that can be cleared.

But the fires have given global warming hysterics a ready-made excuse to try and frighten people. It has also given global warming skeptics the opportunity to criticize greens for exaggeration and hyperbole.

Meanwhile, the Amazon burns and more of the rainforest disappears. Anyone who believes there’s nothing wrong with this is whistling past the graveyard. The ridiculous scenario painted by Vox notwithstanding, in a decade or two, there may be a point of no return for the Amazon with unforeseen consequences for the planet.