The Brazilian President has accused France as well as other countries of interfering in the situation and also of having a “colonialist mindset”, as they show their concerns for the Amazon rainforest, which has been burning for around three weeks.
The number of forest fires in Brazil since January has been staggering, with the total reaching more than 74,000, an increase of 83% when compared to the same period last year. The fires have produced smoke that is visible from more than 600 kilometres up in space.
With the Amazon being described as the world’s lungs due to it being a prime absorber of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, world leaders have become increasingly worried about the situation.
One of the leaders that has been angered by the situation is the Irish prime minister, Leo Vardakar, who said that Ireland will try to go against a possible free trade deal between the European Union and South American Mercosur bloc “if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments.”
One of the most influential leaders in the world, French President Emmanuel Macron, wrote on Twitter that this is an “international crisis”, adding that “Our house is burning. Literally.”
Macron went even further to say that “The Amazon rainforest – the lungs which produce 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire.”
However, the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro responded to his critics through Twitter, saying “I regret that Macron seeks to make personal political gains in an internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries. The sensationalist tone he used does nothing to solve the problem.”
He also added that “The French president’s suggestion that Amazonian matters he discussed at the G7 without the involvement of countries of the region recalls the colonialist mindset that is unacceptable in the 21st century.”
Mr Bolsonaro also criticised news organisations, saying that they had exploited the fires and put Brazil in a negative view of the world because “Most of the media wants Brazil to end up like Venezuela.”
These comments have sparked even more controversy, with Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, claiming that “Instead of spreading outrageous lies or denying the scale of deforestation taking place, we urge the president to take immediate action to halt the progress of these fires.”
Whilst fires in the rainforest during this time of year are not uncommon, plenty of environmentalists are blaming the increase of wildfires on farmers deliberately setting fires in order to clear land for agriculture. Mr Bolsonaro admitted on Thursday that this could in fact be the reason for the fires, just a day after he had blamed environmental groups for the fires, claiming that they had done so in order to shed a negative light on Brazil’s authorities.
Even before the fires, Mr Bolsonaro was under immense criticism for his decision to allow the development of mines, agriculture and logging companies in order to meet the increasing demands of these sectors, just eight months after he was elected as president.
Furthermore, Norway and Germany stopped funding anti-deforestation projects in Brazil this month, as they have become worried about the ongoing changes to how projects are chosen and eventually implemented by Mr Bolsonaro. However, at the time the president said that the funding was not need as many had thought it was.
An estimated measure by Express.co.uk shows that around 640 million acres have been affected by the fire in some way.