Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest has hit a record number of fires this year, based off new data from Brazil’s space research centre INPE.
The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has revealed that their satellite data has shown an 83% increase in fires from the same period in 2018.
Between January and August, INPE detected over 72,000 fires across the rainforest, the highest number since records began in 2013. Since Thursday, over 9,500 forest fires have been observed within the Amazon region.
In the entirety of 2018, there were 40,000 forest fires. In recent years, the worst fires were in 2016, with over 68,000.
It is common in the dry season of Brazil for wildfires to happen, but there are concerns over fires being deliberately started in an attempt to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching.
INPE noted that due to the rise in a number of forest fires, it is not in line with the normal amount of reports during the dry season.
Head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Amazon Programme, Ricardo Mello, said that the fires were “a consequence of the increase in deforestation seen in recent figures”.
Satellite images have been revealed showing Brazil’s northern state, Roraima, which is covered in dark smoke, meaning neighboring Amazonas have declared a state of emergency over the forest fires.
A blackout was caused in the city of Sao Paulo on Monday due to the smoke from the fires. The daytime blackout lasted over an hour.
This was the result of strong winds brought in from the forest fires burning in the states of Amazonas and Rondonia, which is over 1,700 miles away.
This has come weeks after the sacking of Head of INPE President Jair Bolsonaro, over confrontation based on deforestation data.
Mr. Bolsonaro ignored the latest data, stating it was the “season of the queimada”, a period in which farmers use fire to clear land.
Scientists stated that the Amazon had suffered many losses since the president took to office in January, with many of his policies favouring development instead of conservation of the forest.
Previous governments in the past decade have reduced deforestation with actions by federal agencies and a system of fines. However, Mr. Bolsonaro and his ministers believed these penalties were too much, as they oversaw a fall in the confiscation of timber and convictions for the environmental crimes.
Due to the controversy of his management of the deforestation, Mr. Bolsonaro was sacked amid the row.
According to INPE, over 95% of their data is accurate. Many scientific institutions, such as the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, has defended the company’s effectiveness.
This is the sky of the biggest city in the country of Brazil, São Paulo at 2-3 P.M.
The smoke of the burning Amazon Rainforest has covered it entirely.
OUR PLANET IS DETERIORATING BEFORE OUR EYES AS A RESULT OF CLIMATE CHANGE!
THIS IS FRIGHTENING! pic.twitter.com/Xygb4NeikW
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) August 20, 2019