A lot of this situation is rather complicated, but I will try to write a little of what I know.
1. This is dry season, and fires are common, not just human-started ones, natural fires are common too, fires do have a role in the ecosystem.
2. A lot of the alarm raised by the media is more due to the hate on the president than for good reasons, for example people are using as number of the "increase of fires" comparisons between 2019 and 2013, but 2013 was a year where the amount of fires was particularly low, there was some recent years where the number of fires were just a little behind the current number, and the current number is still waaaaay smaller than what it was some decades ago.
3. It is illegal to clear land using fire in Brazil, usually the ones doing it are tiny farmers that don't have resources to clear land the correct way, or megacorporations that don't care (Cargill is a common culprit, not saying they are the ones at fault this time, but often they are).
4. Brazillian laws are kinda loopsided in ways that incentive people to do some weird stuff, for example brazillian environment laws are MUCH, MUCH harsher than other laws, this actually decreases compliance, because getting caught is so dangerous compared to some other crimes, that doing other crimes to not get caught is incentivized, there was a infamous case of a mayor of a town that just outright murdered cops because the punishment for murder was smaller than the punishment he would get if the cops managed to get to his property and investigate it.
"In the Amazon region, fires are rare for much of the year because wet weather prevents them from starting and spreading. However, in July and August, activity typically increases due to the arrival of the dry season. Many people use fire to maintain farmland and pastures or to clear land for other purposes. Typically, activity peaks in early September and mostly stops by November."
Finally, researchers claim that most fires right now are caused by humans (and many started intentionally): https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/brazils-amazon-fires-st...
2. How do you know the alarm is due to the "hate on the President"? Also, the increase of fires should and can measured relative to _last_ year, not 2013. Since 2014 there was a gradual decrease, and the amount/area of fires has nearly doubled from 2018 to this year.
3. If it's illegal and damaging, why are people and corporations doing it, and doing it much more this year? It seems that to a great extent this is due to the new government's policy and rhetoric; and to a lesser extent it's an ongoing problem which both the previous and the current government have not addressed well enough.
4. Well, it seems the government is trying to avoid enforcing these harsh laws. For example:
> The environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, tweeted on Wednesday that the fires were caused by dry weather, wind, and heat. But CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said the fires are "definitely human-induced," and can't be attributed to natural causes like lightning strikes.
so it seems the government is voluntarily looking the other way. If it claims this is the cause, they are unlikely to vigorously pursue the culprits.
Bottom line: Don't do apologism for the government. Its behavior on environmental issues is inexcusable, regardless of any other issues.
No, they are common because historically it has been impossible to stop them giving the limited reach of the government in the region. For example, not a single word coming from state governors about the problem. There are 8 of them all silent. Why? What happened to the "local authorities" that should be working on issue since day 1?
> 2. How do you know the alarm is due to the "hate on the President"?
Because we saw no alarms to previous presidents in the tenures. Fires were orders of magnitude larger due to lack of interest or attention to environmental causes in general. So, yes, it has to do with the pressure groups' desire to damage this President's image, specially abroad (hence Macron).
> 3. If it's illegal and damaging, why are people and corporations doing it, and doing it much more this year?
Which corporations? Any names? Are they equally exposed in a negative fashion by media? Any boycotts? Why aren't they sharing headlines with government names in the news? The justice minister and half the congress love to play the good guys who go after corrupt corporations (does Car Wash Operation ring a bell?). They have put a dozen CEOs from the most well known Brazilian corps in jail already. Not a single one from crimes against the environment. Why?
> 4. it seems the government is trying to avoid enforcing these harsh laws
Law enforcement in continent sized developing countries is VERY difficult, let alone in distant isolated parts of the territory. The level of violence and corruption in those places is beyond mind boggling even to locals that were borne and raised in the culture.
For outsiders like us -- looking at the problem from various angles and distances -- the environmental issue in the Amazon is equally complex as the ones we see in the middle east, in
the Gaza strip, in hunger regions of Africa etc. This is something that may drag on for decades without a definitive solution, which is a sad thought for me as a Brazilian.
Your own link directly contradicts your statement. He clearly says he wants to increase the quality of life of indigenous people.
But governing Brazil is no easy matter, he concluded. “It is difficult to be president of Brazil because it is a president that has less authority,”
What Bolsonaro thinks or says has no immediate effect on what has been going on in Amazon for decades. It's easy to blame him, but then... what do we do? More laws? Who's enforcing them?
But the point is, that this president actions so far, did not help the amazonas, so how would given him more power, not harm things even more?
> How do you know the alarm is due to the "hate on the President"
Worse wildfires and budget cuts have happened at much larger scale than now on previous administrations, to be met with no international outrage at all.
Except we're in the middle of evident climate change and more than ever has attention on environmental degradation been higher
France will be impacted more severe by climate change than most European countries but has no actual plan to realize their commitment on the Paris accord.
Macron should address the 8 million diesel cars on the road in France instead of complaining about Brazil. Macron should start by demanding a recall of those diesel gate vehicles by the manufacturers because diesel cars have been sold under false pretenses.
European law is very clear about the fact the burden of proof is on the business they actually delivered a product as advertised. Hence consumers in Europe do not have to get an extra Apple insurance in contrary to US consumers because this is already factored in a higher buying price.
But it is way more practical to shovel external costs of ghg emissions to next generations. And make some double speak comments on twitter.
At least Trump doesn't pretend to be the good guy, Macron is such a hypocrite. If Macron was my neighbor I would spank him in front of his children.
Bolsonaro exhibits some worrying traits, such as the recent conspiratorial line of thought that NGOs would have started the fires to get back at him.
Even if it had been Mr. Lula, or Ms. Rousef, and the fires had been the same, there would have been the exact same level of criticism due on the environmental issue.
The Amazon is not "burning too much". It's in fact below the historical average.
Perhaps because those offices weren't publicly, overtly and self-admittedly anti-environment. They didn't call themselves "Captain Chainsaw", for one.
He recently said that now he went from being Captain Chainsaw to being Nero. Are you going to say he likens himself to Nero too?
Bolsonaro's was essentially, "it's a conspiracy against me". It's a pretty extraordinary idea to begin with, and stating it as fact to the press without backing it up with evidence makes my alarms go off at least.
I ask because the Americans/South Americans around me seem only to be able react to the media hype/lack thereof.
For example all my friends from SA are on IG all day saying that the paucity of international coverage on the Amazon fires shows marked unfairness, which may be true- but they haven't investigated at all beyond the realm of "forest good, fire bad".
For my own sake, I desire to know the context of this fire, in the society which it is affecting and not from the United States point of view.
1) It is dry season in the region, and wildfires are a normal occurrence.
2) Wildfires are up compared to the same month last year, but still below the historical average.
3) Brazil already has strict environment protection laws which trump even property rights. In the Amazon region, for example, 80% of the area of any property must be preserved with native vegetation. No developed country even comes close.
The reason there is so much hyperbole about the situation in Brazil is both political and economic.
Economically, the current administration has cut funding to questionable NGOs, which used to take the money and do nothing productive, or even worse, engage in biopiracy. This has sparked strong reactions from those used to receive Brazilian taxpayer money. European politicians fake outrage, but their positions can be explained by the recent Mercosur-EU agreement, which has generated a strong reaction by local producers, used to European protectionism.
See France, for example. Macron is simultaneously criticized by both the left and the right, and is trying a political win with local producers and greens, even appealing to a photo of an Amazon wildfire taken 20 years ago by a photographer who died in 2003 to put blame in the current Brazilian administration .
Politically, this is only generating such a big reaction because of who's in charge of government in Brazil. The media worldwide tends strongly to the left, and any opportunity to criticize a right-wing administration is not wasted. I'm not saying any government should be above criticism, but things have to be done rationally.
1) If one refers to wildfire monitoring data , it can be easily seen that the worst years were in the 2002-2007 range, at levels twice as bad as the recent years. The country was then under a left-wing administration, and the current media and political reactions were nowhere to be seen.
2) Bolivia has much more lax environment protection laws, and is currently facing a way larger wildfire problem, probably the largest in its history. You hardly see anything about it in the media, except sometimes as a footnote in a story about Brazil. No European president is threatening their sovereignty; no one says their president is the destroyer of the Earth.
3) The previous (impeached) Brazilian administration cut environmental protection funds in 2015 from R$ 6b to R$ 1b. There was no outrage. Yet somehow otherwise reasonable people think the Amazon was destroyed in 7 months by the current administration.
I'm using the dictionary definition of the word.
You have to think in terms of geopolitics, not in terms of “forest good / fire bad”. The reaction against Brazil was unjustified and disproportionate, as can be clearly seen by the total lack of similar attacks on other countries with similar or worse situations. Why is that? What are the motivations and incentives? Who benefits if economic sanctions are imposed against Brazil?
Here are some facts the president that should shed a light on how he and his office views environmental issues. If anyone is interested I can gather some links to detail any of them.
* The Minister of the Environment was condemned for crimes against the environment in 2017.
* Brazil has a Ministry of the Environment. President Bolsonaro unsuccessfully tried to extinguish that ministry once he assumed office.
* President Bolsonaro transferred the Brazilian Forest Serivce to the Ministry of Agriculture (!!). It previously was under the Ministry of the Environment.
* Ricardo Salles (Minister of the Environment) decided to review _all_ the national reserves in Brazil so they can get resized or extinguished.
* A standard procedure when officers find illegal logging sites is to destroy their logging equipment (chainsaws etc). President Bolsonaro personally asked his minister of the Environment to instruct officers not to do that.
* Environmental protection agencies now announce beforehand where the inspections are going to be.
* President Bolsonaro received a fine for illegal fishing a few years ago. A few months after assuming office, he fired the officer (just a regular low-level environment officer, same level as municipal police) that fined him.
We’re the much larger wildfire issues in previous administrations shocking?
> The Minister of the Environment was condemned for crimes against the environment in 2017.
He was condemned by an administrative misconduct. Classifying this as crimes against the environment is partisanship hyperbole.
> Brazil has a Ministry of the Environment. President Bolsonaro unsuccessfully tried to extinguish that ministry once he assumed office.
Do you really think the existence of a bureaucratic body is what will make or break environmental protection? We also have a a Ministry of Education...
> Ricardo Salles (Minister of the Environment) decided to review _all_ the national reserves in Brazil so they can get resized or extinguished.
12% of Brazil’s area is reserved for indigenous populations of around 500k people. Reviewing this is completely reasonable.
> A standard procedure when officers find illegal logging sites is to destroy their logging equipment (chainsaws etc). President Bolsonaro personally asked his minister of the Environment to instruct officers not to do that.
... so they can be reused by these same officers in their inspection tasks. Why burn perfectly reusable equipments.
Honestly, you’re speaking half-truths that mischaracterize the actual situation.
* Bolsonaro refused to answer about environmental policy when asked about it by Germany and Norway who contribute millions to the Amazon Fund, he subsequently told Brazil doesn't need that money and told Norway to send the money to Germany to help them reforest.
* One of his first actions in office was this one: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/02/brazil-jair-bo...
Another answer of Bolsonaro's to Norway was pointing the finger at that country's supposed whale hunting. Unfortunately for him, the video he used to attack Norway was actually from the Faroe islandsm, which are Danish:
I just came back from a trip to Mexico and it was everywhere and smells awful. You can smell it driving on the highway from the airport. Its diverting lots of resources from the Mexican navy, local governments, and volunteers who have to clean it up constantly to keep the beaches usable.
There was plenty of sea turtles who love to eat the stuff.
This is a good opportunity for some international pressure as the consequences are very much here and now. Not some hypothetical climate change in the future.
Many coastal communities are dealing with more serious problems.
With this sargassum issue they can no longer just say they "don't believe" in something when its in front of them.
The stuff that's happening today is probably the best motivator to get people to invest in the future. That's why all of those BBC nature docs are the great sales pitches as they always touch on real issues happening now (see: shots of a polar bear on an ice block!).
Plus it's not just climate change, it could be any major human disruption of natural habits.
People are beginning to seriously freak out. I see that in the UK where I live and in Portugal where I come from and in Brasil where my family is from. People are seeing fires, drought and extreme weather (in Europe heatwaves are killing people). It feels like the end of times.
To be fair climate change denial is mostly a political Problem. Most Americans believe in climate change and same in the Uk and I believe in most of the developed world.
The fires in the Artic and Siberia, that does feel like the end of times :/
> Next, Germany and Norway froze tens of millions of dollars in planned assistance.
Perhaps we should be paying the rest of the world too, but what if there's a disagreement about how much a resource is worth? And remember, this is all money that could be invested in solar panels, or carbon capture, or countless other things.
I mean, this type of extortion for foreign aid is already common among pariah states. See: North Korea.
We did so why can't they? I think they shouldn't because of global warming and what science tell us, but there should be some compensation given under the form of a tax to keep the forest alive, I don't think that would be ecological blackmail at all.
The biggest export of Brasil is soy beans (27 billion market) mostly to China - https://oec.world/en/visualize/tree_map/hs92/export/bra/show..., but of course its much more complicated then that.
The China demand has increased recently due to the US trade wars, so that plays a role too.
There are tens of different crops used for all sorts of products, like palm oil used in doughnuts, kids cereals etc.
For example, leather is exported to China, that produces clothes that are sold globally a lot of it to the west, but not only.
The Amazon basin has a huge concentration of cattle in the world (200 million heads), and is a huge exporter of soy beans (27 billion market).
Pasture land and cattle feed crops are the main driver of the deforestation, so reducing global meat comsumption is the only way to stop the economic incentive to tear down the rainforest.
Brasil by itself has no interest in tearing down the forest to feed their population, this level of agriculture is for exporting and for feeding a highly resource intensive and environmental impactful process: meat production.
Its a global problem, maybe threatening the trade deal with Brasil is an effective short term solution to put some brakes on at least some of the damage, but without a global change of common habits like eating too much meat, the deforestation is not going to slow down anytime soon, by the contrary.
Norway has already been providing Brazil financial assistance linked to Amazon forest preservation since 2008, and is now reacting to the current events:
As for the cattle and Soy export - you're right in that they are major contributors. But again - that was true last year as well. Also, it is up to Brazil to shape its economy so that no more land is cleared. Farming can be intensified (not sure how much, for Soy, but it definitely can); and beef production should just be indirectly capped through prevention of clearing. In fact, one might argue that there should be a re-forestation effort, but I'm not sure enough about that to make the argument proper.
And - what about the importance of those exports, you might ask? Brazil's economy should evolve - if even through protectionist measures of some sort - so as to be somewhat more self-reliant in terms of production. Japan did it, China did it, so can Brazil. Also, let's look at its imports:
Mineral fuels including oil: US$26.2 billion (14.5% of total imports)
Electrical machinery, equipment: $21.8 billion (12%)
Machinery including computers: $19.1 billion (10.5%)
Vehicles: $14 billion (7.7%)
Organic chemicals: $10.6 billion (5.8%)
Ships, boats: $9.9 billion (5.4%)
Fertilizers: $8.6 billion (4.8%)
Plastics, plastic articles: $7.3 billion (4%)
Pharmaceuticals: $7.2 billion (4%)
Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $5.5 billion (3%)
* Transition to renewable energy.
* Develop and expand industry, particularly of land and sea vehicles, machinery.
* Transition from plastic to renewable/recyclable materials which can be produced locally.
Of course this is not easy to do, but it's definitely possible.
If anything, these type of articles come at a suspicious time so close to the signing of the Mercosur trade deal, because yes the forest is burning but according to Nasa not more and not less than in other years.
Which is bad and should be stopped, but why are we talking about it so much now? It reeks of political manipulation.
I don't like that at all but well if it forces some sort of immediate action and concession from Brasil it's better than nothing, but it does not tackle the underlying issues.
If people want to do something about it, the most important thing is to stop eating the main end product of the Amazonia burning which is meat.
Not necessarily only from Brasil, because they export the crops for cattle feed globally. I'm talking about meat in general.
The funding they provided in the past it is irrelevant compared to the sou bean production on deforested land.
Those same people created colonial empires, held slaves and engage in all sorts of nefarious deeds. None of these should be considered acceptable in this day and age.
Why this? Are you expecting some unavoidable global phenomenon to take the forest down?
And burning the florest to plant soil or grazing land is a shit way to do it.
And in the end, if having a florest in place helps people make money, they will start working harder in preserving it.
Is like legal elephant hunting. My looks barbaric to some (i really dislike it), but is the only reason that there still elephants today, and people who used to hunt them for the preys, now help preserve because they make more money of rich tourist that pay big bucks to shoot an animal.
"We just need to figure some way for the Brazilians to make money off of it."
If Jair Bolsonaro is sufficiently Trump or Kim like, he could call it tribute.
"The fires are fueled not only by a rise in global temperatures but also by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro. The fiery, anti-environment populist has encouraged settlements in the Amazon region, sacked the head of the government agency that monitors deforestation from space, and just this week blamed NGOs for setting the fires to make him look bad."
interestingly nasa says there is nothing unusual about the fires, while it is brazil's space agency that the mainstream news is quoting. which reference is trusted just seems to depend on which will get the most clicks?
A lot of this year's fires have been on a natural preservation area that in theory can not be used to agriculture. Some people claim the area got out of equilibrium due to global warming and the fire was unavoidable, some claim it's a criminal fire caused by people that want to plant there. Honestly, I have no idea how to assess media claims anymore, most likely, both are false and it's something else.
All these countries that are complaining about the burning forest - why don't they pony up some cash and pay Brazil not to burn it down?
If the Amazon is the "lungs of the world" then surely between all the countries of the world (or, just a few, or just one rich one) we could make it worth their while to keep the forest intact.
It is called Amazon Fund.
However Norway and German halted the payments because Bolsonaro doesn't agree with them on how to curb the deforestation and the fires.
As a Brazilian I disagree that other countries should be paying us anything, we should sort those problems by ourselves.
However I think there's a huge incentive problem here: The people who stand to gain from foreign money coming to "save Amazon" (Brazil's general population) is not the same people who stand to gain from its destruction (businesspeople).
Second, a large chunk of the current government ideologically believe there's nothing wrong with deforestation, or deny it, or deny climate change. Hell, some of them are flat-earthers.
It is common in the Brazilian right to associate environmental causes (include climate change) with leftists, and the current Brazilian government treats the left (any kind of left) as the worst possible enemies. So a sure-fire way of not being heard by the right is... talking about environmental causes/climate change.
So, in the end it should really be an astonishing amount to make sense for the current government to change its course.
I am pro preserving the rain-forest; but interestingly enough that is also a human managed environment and has been for 1000s of years.
As for bio-diversity; I am pretty sure a lot of the UK was once forested and certainly had wolves, bears and other inconvenient creatures; at this point we are starting to even wipe out our insects.
For the sake of bio-diversity we should re-introduce all those animals.
The whole situation is terrible but I don't think the establishment powers in the US would have much interest in pressuring his administration.
If this president has no problem openly screwing his own people and lie about it right in your face, I don't think he makes the greatest trade partner anyway.
> I don't think he makes the greatest trade partner anyway
This seems to imply that the president of Brazil represents the entirety of an economic block, and as such a trade deal should suffer because of just one person?
As I said, there's a lot more to this, for example, farmers started the burning (we're calling it "day of the fire") because of shit that the president said.
Also he blamed NGOs for the fires, when asked if he had any proof he said "Is there need for proof?".
He's a short sighted moron doing what short sighted morons do, it's a sad state of affairs here.
Not just cattle but logging and mining. The Minister of the Environment is basically a lobbyist for such companies.
For the rest of HN which might not know: the president has long dismissed environmental issues as idle "communist" talk (in his own words: "Construction projects get delayed because someone finds a petrified poo of an indigenous person".
His Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, has a history of environment-related crimes. He is basically a lobbyist for mining and logging corporations.
The Amazon fires are just the most jarring example of how the administration doesn't care about the environment, but they are far from the only or even the greatest environmental issue right now in Brazil.
I have a hard time grasping why, again, people are so damn greedy. For the quick money, basically destroy this precious resource of the amazon forest. I am really angry. I stand with the people, that care about this and want it to end 
I do hope, that this Mr. "Trump of the Tropics", listens to his colleagues in Germany, France, etc. and just stops.
I cannot consume any more beef from south america, knowing this is happening because of it.
"As of August 16, 2019, an analysis of NASA satellite data indicated that total fire activity across the Amazon basin this year has been close to the average in comparison to the past 15 years." 
>As of August 16, 2019, an analysis of NASA satellite data indicated that total fire activity across the Amazon basin this year has been close to the average in comparison to the past 15 years.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's shitty that because of history, the US and the UK (I'm from the UK) got a headstart and polluted all they wanted. But the fact of the matter is, we know far more about the climate now, and such pollution simply can't happen now. I'd really like to see Western countries providing more funding for economic development in other countries, contributing to more green technologies etc, since a lot of their/our gains were by chance that we could pollute all we wanted 200 years ago. And not abusing globalisation and shitting on countries that don't fall for "free trade" which turns them in to low wage workers whilst the West enjoys the fruits of their labour.
The thing is, when it comes to the environment, it affects everyone.
Amount of fire is... normal.
About november (remember Brazil is south hemisphere) the humid season starts and the fires stop (even if people WANT to set stuff on fire it doesn't work, my SO is from Amazon state, according to her family except those months where the fire is possible, it is normal for it to rain every single day, sometimes multiple times per day... my SO misses the rain so much that she often opens rainymood.com )
I mean, it's basically just "SMS, but then free". Blaming WhatsApp for the messages its users send is like blaming ISPs for piracy, right?
Everyone in Brasil is on whatsapp so that was a way to do it. I understand your point but some research would help.
It’s not so much as blaming ISPs for piracy but blaming hosting services for serving stuff like 8chan ir far right neonazi websites.
Yes the networks are different but we still need to consider the consequences and how to mitigate things. It’s either that or chaos.
I mean, that's quite a thing to say, very different from saying YouTube should make their recommendation algorithm more varied/broad.
I'm mostly just guessing what you're arguing for, but an American (i.e. foreign) megacorp blocking my message to my aunt because their shitty AI decides that it doesn't fit their head office's politics du jour, that sounds pretty dystopian to me. Is that what you're for? If not that, then what?
It's easy to blame people for things gone wrong when you can't tell what they should've done instead. If you can, please enlighten us.
(I agree with your points wrt Facebook and YouTube)
spread that the Left stole the tax payer is not disinformation.
Google and you'll find a ton more.
Second, the main media this happened through was Fox News, which is a pure propaganda machine, that design lies and presents them as facts.
Third, I am fine with companies choosing to not intervene in political debate and stay as neutral as possible when it comes to manually applying filters on content. Being used to transmit propaganda is not the same as producing it
Besides news of fire in amazon this is a common phenomenon that time of the year. The biggest problem is this is the Dry season, combining with fires spread by farmers owners used to clean the land and start a new crop (or grazing for animals), that inevitable get out of control.
The thing is, biggest producers usually follow more strict rules, medium and small farms still start fires, because is a quicker and cheapper way to clean the land in the start of a new season.
I`m not a specialist, but as far as I researched, staring fires, specially in native florests, is illegal, but the ambiental police is low in resources when it comes of fiscalization and appplication of the law.
The fund to protect the amazon florest, had been cut in radically in the last 10 years. To give perspective, in the last goverment, it was dropped from 6.5 billion to 1.2 billion.
What we can take from the current situation:
- There was increase in fire area in the amazon region, but this happens in a yearly basis.
- There where a sistematic cut in the budget for protecting the florest.
- Add the low budget situation, to corruption of polititians in the regional level, and is a recipt for disaster.
- The current news are worrisome, but they are boosted by the current political climate. The press hate Bolsonaro almost as much as they hate Trump. Some of it based in facts, some in pure histeria.
- Much international pressure are now comming because the brazilian goverment stop working with international ONGs that used to receive money for goverment to do nothing about. No international ONGs cried with almost 100k area fires that happened in 2010, or the 79ks that happened a few years before.
- In the end is all about money. The forest will continue to burn, animals will continue to die. No on will remmember in a few months.
- Independent of what the goverment does (and is current doing a crappy job, don't take me wrong), there will still be attacked by the press. Is how it works.
Here are some info: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/world/americas/amazon-fir...
Those people blaming the current president doesn't understand that this is not a new problem. They're doing this only because the president is not who they want. I never saw the world saying anything when the Left was in the government and this same thing happen.