Burning America’s Lungs

The Story on what is really happening in the Amazon Rainforest.


Photo by CARL DE SOUZA / AFPGetty Images

View of fire in the Amazon rainforest, near Abuna, Rondonia state, Brazil, on August 24, 2019

Andrew Johnson, Online Editor In Chief

The Amazon Rainforest is currently on fire; there have been over 1000 fires in the Amazon since the beginning of the year but it begins to ramp up in July.

Every year in mid to late July and August the Amazon Rainforest experiences a dry season.  During such “dry” seasons the rainforest experiences thousands of fires. This year especially the Amazon has experienced more fires than previous years.

Global Fire Data.org
Graphs of Fire data captured in the Amazon since 2012

While fires in the Amazon are common during this time of the year because of the “dry” season aren’t always harmful this amount of fire has another source.  

Brazillian President Jair Bolsonaro and his predecessor Michel Temer their actions cutting the budget of Brazil’s environmental protection agency have allowed illegal logging to go on easier.

“Temer downgraded a ministry focused on supporting sustainable family farms and chopped funds for environmental protections and science. In 2017, Temer cut the federal science budget by 44% and took nearly the same amount from the discretionary budget of IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency,” Zoe Sullivan from Time said. “In April 2019, Bolsonaro continued the trend, cutting IBAMA’s budget by 24%. Those cuts left the agency unable to cover its fixed costs and left it without resources for patrolling and enforcement.”

Sullivan states later that IBAMA’s budget has been restored to what it was before the cuts earlier this year. 

What this means is that IBAMA can not patrol as well as it could in the past looking out for potential illegal logging.  Illegal logging uses fires to help clear land for ranching and farming after clearing the area of trees. Places in the forest where farming will happen in the future have been captured in photos fenced off and burning.

Photo Courtesy of Amnesty International
Amazon rainforest fire’s in Brazill

So what is being done to help fight the fires in the Amazon?  In Brazil, Bolsonaro is mobilizing armies to help combat the flames.  The president of Bolivia contracted a Boeing 747 “supertanker” to help combat the fires.  At the G7 summit over the weekend of the 24th countries pledged $20 million to help fight the fires.  However, Bolsonaro has rejected help from them.

Other countries have pledged support to help Brazil in order to fight the fires.  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country will continue to support the fires, and if needed will send $15 million dollars along with “water bombers”.  President Trump has also voiced his support of fighting wildfires as well as commenting Brazil on their job of fighting fires.

“Just spoke with President @JairBolsonaro of Brazil. Our future Trade prospects are very exciting and our relationship is strong, perhaps stronger than ever before. I told him that if the United States can help with the Amazon Rainforest fires, we stand ready to assist!” Trump said in a tweet on August 23.

On Aug. 27 trump tweeted this as well, “I have gotten to know President @jairbolsonaro well in our dealings with Brazil. He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil – Not easy. He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!”