Amazon rainforest fires becoming a global & political crisis

By Robert Foreman

The fires that have been raging across the Amazon rainforest for over a month have only recently captured the world’s attention. Many people have been calling on Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, as well as other world leaders, to take imminent action to tackle the fires before they decimate the rainforest. At the recent G-7 Summit, many world leaders pledged upwards of $20 million dollars in aid to help tackle the crisis. However, President Bolsonaro initially balked at accepting the aid unless he received an apology from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Now, at first glance one would think that no sane world leader would turn down aid to deal with a crisis that is stretching the resources of their country. However, President Bolsonaro took offense to President Macron’s criticisms of how he is handling the fires and he initially demanded an apology before he took international assistance. Now, President Bolsonaro has gotten criticism from multiple sources, but he seems to have taken the most offense to President Macron’s comments.

One of the reasons that President Bolsonaro has come under fire, no pun intended, is because he has allowed industries to have easier access to protected lands. Brazil often uses coordinated fires to help clear the land for farming, mining and ranching. This has enraged environmentalists who believe that the rainforest should be protected at all costs. Globally, there is an ongoing battle between those who want to leave some lands untouched and those who want to develop that same land for other uses, and Brazil is no different. The raging fires in the Amazon are only deepening those battle lines.

The rainforest stretches 2.1 million miles and stretches through many South American countries, including Brazil, Peru and Colombia. However, 60% of the rainforest is in Brazil, which is why President Bolsonaro has found himself the subject of much criticism. The pressure to preserve the rainforest continues to mount due to it being home to a wide-range of indigenous peoples and diverse species of wildlife. The Amazon rainforest is also the largest forest on the planet and it produces over 20 percent of the planet’s oxygen, which is why it is often called ‘The Lungs of the World.’ The fires that are currently ripping through the rainforest have spurred many to want to pitch in before there is irreversible damage.

Brazil is currently under a state of emergency and the military has been sent in to help battle the more than 26,000 forest fires raging in the Amazon. Of course, after initially rejecting the funds that were promised at the G-7, Brazil is now willing to accept the aid on the condition that it is allowed to oversee how the funds are used. Now, while President Bolsonaro has been the key focus there are others in Brazil who have taken offense with other nations telling them how they should handle the rainforest when it comes to development and environmental protection.

President Bolsonaro has stated that he believes that Brazil would be treated like “a colony or a no man’s land” if an international coalition was created to save the Amazon. While President Bolsonaro has every right to protect the interests of his own country he also has to balance that with accepting help from the international community when it is offered. It is possible to freely accept international aid while protecting the individuality of your country at the same time. Containing the fires that are threatening the lives of humans and wildlife in the Amazon rainforest should be the top priority. Once the danger has passed then everyone can let their political egos and social agendas take center stage again.