The Amazon rainforest has been devastated for weeks by fires so intense they can be seen from space. Smoke from the expansive flames has been captured on both NASA and NOAA satellites from space.
The National Institute for Space Research (INPE), via satellite data, revealed an 83 percent increase compared to the same period in 2018, as it has detected more than 72,000 fires since January 2019.
The hashtag #PrayForAmazonia went viral on Tuesday as people attempted to draw the world’s attention to the situation in the Amazon rainforest on social media.
The cause of the fires is still unknown, but both fires accelerated rapidly under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Twitter users slammed the media for paying too little attention to the Amazon blazes, neglecting the essential role of the rainforest plays in absorbing planet-warming carbon dioxide.
People wrote about the lack of media coverage about the state of one of the most important ecosystems on Earth.
#ICantSleepBecause The Amazon has been burning for 3 weeks, and I’m just now finding out because of the lack of media coverage. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ECOSYSTEMS ON EARTH. SPREAD AWARENESS #PrayforAmazonia . Let’s save it. Retweet to spread the information. pic.twitter.com/N5MhWz5DDp
— Dominic Onderi Nyabuto (@HonDommy) August 20, 2019
Via satellite data, the Brazilian government’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) showed that deforestation has increased dramatically under Bolsonaro, who dismissed the research as “a lie” and fired INPE director Ricardo Galvão for defending the data.
The INPE findings revealed that Amazon “lost 739 sq km during the 31 days [of May], equivalent to two football pitches every minute.”
The number of forest fires in the Amazon Rainforest in #Brazil is up 82% from last year. The fires are purposely set by ranchers to clear land. They then burn out of control. The Bolsonaro govt has eliminated restrictions on burnings. This must be stopped! #PrayforAmazonia. RT pic.twitter.com/cAyUlqjdRz
— Daniel Schneider (@BiologistDan) August 20, 2019
This is the Brazilian environmental policy under president Bolsonaro. He doesn’t care about life. The Amazon Rainforest’s burning for about 3 weeks and nothing’s been done. @BadAstronomer @azmoderate #PrayforAmazonia #PrayforRondonia pic.twitter.com/haIrQzFdk9
— olhaoalho (@olhaoalho) August 20, 2019
The Amazon rainforest has been burning for 3 weeks! We are on the verge of losing it completely if the fire isn’t put out.
The loss of trees, the loss of biodiversity is what is accelerating CLIMATE CHANGE.
THIS IS AN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY. This is a CRISIS.#SaveTheAmazon pic.twitter.com/EDx1bub5AZ
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) August 20, 2019
The advocacy group Amazon Watch called the Bolsonaro regime’s attacks on the largest rainforest in the world “an international tragedy.” The group advises supporting the resistance of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon and avoiding the products by the agribusiness and financiers involved in the destruction.
The Amazon rainforest has been fire-resistant for much of its history due to its natural moisture and humidity, but according to NASA, drought and human activities lead to wildfires.
The space agency reported that the intensity and frequency of droughts, in turn, lead to increases in regional deforestation and anthropogenic climate change.
According to Ricardo Mello, head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Amazon Programme, the fires were “a consequence of the increase in deforestation seen in recent figures”.
The first large fire, that started in late July, burnt around 1,000 hectares of an environmental reserve in the Brazilian state of Rondônia—located on the border with Bolivia.
It created dense plumes of smoke that spread far across the state, endangering the health of people and the lives of animals in the area
Due to the increased number of fires, two weeks ago, the state of Amazonas in the northwest of the country declared a state of emergency. The fires were so intense that smoke from the blaze darkened the afternoon sky in São Paulo.
The Amazon rainforest has been on fire for weeks, and it’s so bad it’s literally blotting out the sun miles away https://t.co/oDjcECJVgp
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) August 20, 2019
Robert Maguire, research director at U.S. government watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington tweeted that fire is literally blotting out the sun miles away.