The Amazon rain forest story

Less than 2 minute read

August 27, 2019

We’ve been hearing a lot of scary stories in recent weeks about the record number of wildfires destroying the Amazon rain forest.  That would be terrible, but is it really true? 

At the link, Reason magazine reports that NASA says it’s not unusual to see a lot of fires in Brazil this time of year, and it’s impossible to say yet whether this year is record-breaking or within normal limits.  Even the New York Times reports that the majority of the fires seen in satellite photos are not old-growth rain forest but already-cleared land that’s being cleared again by farmers using routine controlled burns.  And while deforestation is up slightly, it’s still way below its peak in the early 2000s.

So why is this suddenly being covered as if it’s an unprecedented apocalypse that will doom attempts to stop climate change?  If you don’t keep up with international politics, maybe it’s because Brazil recently elected as President Jair Bolsonaro, a conservative who’s been compared to Trump.

In fact, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff said Brazil would reject $20 million worth of fire-fighting aid offered by the G7 nations, saying it would be better used to reforest Europe and that Brazil didn’t need lectures on how to prevent fires from French President Macron, who couldn’t even avoid a preventable fire in Notre Dame Cathedral.


You know, they’re right: I can see the resemblance to Trump! 


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  • Giovanna Russo

    08/28/2019 03:22 AM

    I spend the summer months here in Tramonti, Salerno. It is called, " the lungs of the Amalfi Coast ". We experience fires up here in the mountains every single year; the expression here is that the ones who put out the fire are the ones who start the fire. The fires are caused by the people themselves for various reasons: the goat herders to make way for their animals to climb, the authorities to create work to get paid, the farmers to burn their herbage/flora... a few years ago Mt. Vesuvius was ablaze for weeks and the fires were started to burn the garbage that was amassed there. I'm not sure if my comment relates to what is going on in Brazil; I felt the need to share my reality here.