The Amazon Rainforest in Brazil Is on Fire, and You Can See the Damage From Space

Here’s how you can help, even if you don’t live in Brazil.

  • The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is on fire, burning at the highest rate since 2013.
  • Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has reacted by claiming, without evidence, that NGOs could be burning it down on purpose.

There’s been a significant increase in wildfires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, and it’s gotten so bad that the damage can now be seen from space.

Related: Students Protest Climate Change at Parliament on World Environment Month

New data released by the country’s space research agency is bringing more attention to what’s going on after a blackout in São Paulo on Monday sparked concerns, particularly since São Paulo is more than 1,700 miles away from the rainforest.

Many are also criticizing both Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro for his reaction to the fires and the lack of global response compared to the outcry when the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France, caught fire earlier this year.

Here’s what’s really going on in Brazil, and how to help the Amazon rainforest right now.

The Amazon Rainforest is Burning

That much is obvious, if you’ve spent 10 seconds looking at the video clips coming out of Brazil this week.

The Fires Are Getting Much, Much Worse

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) now reports that satellite datashows an 84% increase in 2019 wildfires compared to last year. The institute also reports that there’s been an 88% increase in deforestation in the Amazon, which is terrible news for the environment and the rainforests.

The European Union’s satellite program shows that the smoke from the fires can now be seen from space, because it’s gotten that bad.

Here’s How the Amazon Rainforest Fires Started in the First Place

During dry season in Brazil, wildfires often start in the rainforest. That is nothing new. The difference this time is the fires have been worse than normal and some of them might have questionable origins.

The INPE (mentioned above) says that it has caught 72,000 fires this year already and more than 9,500 in the past week, which is extremely abnormal. In 2018, it registered fewer than 40,000 fires, so 2019 is already much worse before the year is even over.

Express alleges that some of the fires have been “deliberately” started to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching, but Jair Bolsonaro has another theory.

Brazil’s President is Blaming NGOs, For Some Reason

Jair Bolsonaro is a controversial president to begin with, especially when it comes to environmental regulations, but he took it to another level Wednesday by saying that non-governmental organizations could be burning the rainforest on purpose to shame the government after Jair cut their funding.

It’s one hell of a conspiracy theory that simultaneously has little to do with the criticized environmental policies that Bolsonaro implemented, which is part of why it has people so angry.

According to CNN, “federal interference” in Brazil is making it easier for people to exploit the rainforest, and Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency’s operations have gone down since Bolsonaro was sworn in.

Here’s How to Help the Rainforest, Even if You Don’t Live in Brazil

You don’t have to be a firefighter or climate change activist on the ground in Brazil to help preserve the Amazon rainforest. There are plenty of options, so check them out.

  1. Protect an acre of rainforest through the Rainforest Action Network.
  2. Focus on the animals of the rainforest specifically by donating or volunteering with the WWF.
  3. Sign a petition to encourage governmental action, if that’s your thing. Here’s a Greenpeace one.
  4. Fast Company reports that reducing your beef consumption can also help, because rainforest beef reportedly goes into fast-food hamburgers and processed beef products.

This post originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com

Related: Children All Over the World Skip Class to Protest in the Climate Strike

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