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!