Brazil’s wildfire season is underway, raising concerns

In this August 23, 2020 file photo, the fire is consuming land that was recently deforested by livestock farmers near Novo Progresso, Para, Brazil. Brazil’s wildfire season has begun, fears that early data and severe droughts will keep 2021’s national destruction at record highs in the last two years, despite efforts to quell the flames. Is causing.Credits: AP Photo / Andre Penner, File

Brazil’s wildfire season has begun, fears that early data and severe droughts will keep 2021’s national destruction at record highs in the last two years, despite efforts to quell the flames. Is causing.

According to data released Thursday, the government’s space agency, which uses satellites to monitor fires, reported that more areas burned in July than in any July since 2016. The same was true in June.

Most Brazilian flames are artificial and are often illegally initiated by landowners who clear forests for cattle and crops. According to historical data, fires begin to increase in June and tend to peak in September. They easily get out of control during the dry season, burning vast forests to the ground.

Brazil has the world’s largest rainforests and tropical wetlands, Amazon and Pantanal, with dramatic fires in 2019 and 2020, respectively, causing the largest annual forest loss since 2015. Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly called for the development of this area.

This year, the Cerrado savanna in the central western part of Brazil is suffering more than usual. An area about the same size as Connecticut and New Jersey burned there in the first seven months of 2021.

Ane Alencar, science director at the Amazon Institute for Environmental Studies, said in an online panel on July 27 that cool weather has reduced Amazon’s fires this year, limiting the chances of a fire spreading. .. However, she added that deforestation has remained on par with the past two years, with so much dry material remaining on the ground waiting to be burned.

“We’re scared in the coming months,” said Alencar, coordinator of MapBiomas Fogo, which compiles data on deforestation and fires across the region. “When this cold front is gone, the vegetation will be dry and the temperature will be high …. I don’t know if people who cut down the forest will not illuminate it.”

On July 22, the Ministry of Justice and Environment announced a task force to prevent and investigate fires in the 11 biomes of Amazon, Pantanal and the Cerrado because of the increased risk of Brazil’s worst drought. .. Approximately 6,000 people, including federal and state police and firefighters, as well as state public security and environmental authorities, will participate in the effort, according to a statement.

On June 29, Bolsonaro ordered the relocation of soldiers to the Amazon to combat fire and deforestation, and announced a 120-day ban on unauthorized outdoor fires.

However, similar measures over the past few years have not been able to prevent illegal fires. According to Vinícius Silgueiro, territorial intelligence coordinator at the Center of Life Institute in Mato Grosso, more than 90% of Pantanal’s hotspots detected in 2020 occurred after a similar presidential ban.

“The immunity is very high. Enforcement is far below what is needed,” Sylgueiro said.

In Matt Grosso, where half of the territory is in the Amazon, the federal and state governments began coordinating actions to end the overlap last year, leaving the rest of the world unattended, according to state environmental minister Mohren Lazaretti. Left vulnerable.

The state has also purchased helicopters and plans to deploy and drop dozens of planes lent by Pantanal farmers and businesses. fire Delayant to Blaze.

Last year, more than 4 million hectares of Pantanal burned. This represents about 27% of that area. This is far more common since official records management began in 2003. Fires often kill local wildlife such as jaguars, caiman, and giant otters.

“The magnitude of the fire last year drew public attention to the element of personal responsibility,” Lazaretti said. “This year, the involvement of cities, farmers and even traditional and indigenous communities is much greater.”

The fire in the Amazon raised global concerns the previous year, with several European governments openly criticizing the Bolsonaro administration. Bolsonaro argued that fires across the country and in the Amazon have increased since 2018, but are in good agreement with the average for the past few years, a significant decrease from 15 years ago. He called on European leaders to care about their own backyard.

According to previous research, Amazon absorbs about 2 billion tonnes of the 40 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide that the world releases into the atmosphere each year, making it an important part of global efforts to curb climate change. It has become. However, research led by the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Nature On July 14, it was found that over a decade, nearly 600 elevated roads were included, with increased fires and increased carbon emissions due to intensified dry season and increased deforestation. The southeastern part of the Amazon, especially the areas devastated by logging, is a net source of carbon.

Paulo Artaxo, a professor of environmental physics at the University of São Paulo and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, found in other recent studies that even the better-preserved western Amazon region is carbon-neutral in terms of emissions. It shows that it is. Previously it was a carbon sink.

Well-known climatologist Carlos Nobre says the Brazilian Amazon is approaching a “turning point.” The thick jungle then stops producing enough water to maintain its current shape and begins to transform into a tropical savanna.

According to Noble, the Bolsonaro administration has yet to show encouraging changes in its approach to saving the rainforest.

NS Federal government “Continue incentives Organized crime In the Amazon, which is responsible for timber theft, illegal logging, and fires, people practicing these crimes show no signs of worrying about tighter enforcement. They continue to feel quite empowered. ”

The worst June of Brazil’s Amazon forest fires since 2007: data

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Brazil’s wildfire season is underway, raising concerns

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