Aug 24, 2019

Brazil deploys military to fight Amazon fire

A fire burns after spreading onto a farm along a highway in Nova Santa Helena municipality in northern Mato Grosso State, south in the Amazon basin in Brazil, on August 23. Photo: JOAO LAET / Contributor

Brazil prepared for an "unprecedented" operation, deploying 44,000 troops starting Saturday to fight the fires that have blanketed the Amazon region and prompted anti-government protests, as well as global condemnation and widespread concern, reports AP.

Why it matters: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, known as a far-right populist and climate science cynic, authorized use of the national military to battle the blazes on Friday as international pressure mounted. French leader Emmanuel Macron led the charge, threatening to block a European Union trade deal with Brazil had Bolsonaro failed to act, reports the New York Times, adding, "The moves zeroed in on a sensitive spot for Brazil’s pro-business leader: the country’s fragile economy."

By the numbers: There have been 40,341 fires in the Amazon already this year, per the NYT. More than 1,330 square miles have been torched in the first 7 months of 2019.

  • Per the AP, the military will use two C-130 cargo planes to drop as much as 12,000 liters of water on the flames.
  • Reality check: Brazil's dry season often results in wildfires, but the country has not seen "blazes of a scale not seen in nearly a decade," per the NYT.

What's next: Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said G7 leaders would discuss the fire in the Amazon over this weekend.

  • However, "...it is far from clear whether [Bolsonaro] will reconsider any of the policies that, experts say, have contributed to the rapid pace of deforestation since he took office in January," the NYT notes.

Go deeper

Bolsonaro demands apology from Macron before accepting $20 million in Amazon aid

France's President Emmanuel Macron and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro at the G20 Summit in Osaka in June. Photo: Jacques Witt/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has said he will only accept a $20 million aid package from G7 nations to fight fires in the Amazon rainforest if French President Emmanuel Macron apologizes, according to the AP.

The big picture: Macron and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have traded barbs on Twitter over the fate of the Amazon, which has seen an 84% increase in wildfires this year compared to 2018. Bolsonaro has described the offer of international help as a “colonialist mentality," while Macron has questioned the Brazilian president's commitment to environmentalism. Per the AP, Bolsonaro says Macron must take back some of his comments "and then we can speak."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 27, 2019

1,200 new fires identified in Amazon region this week

A burned area after a fire in the Amazon Rainforest in Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil, on Saturday. Photo: Joao Laet/AFP/Getty Images

Some 1,200 new fires have been identified burning in the Amazon Rainforest region this week, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reported Saturday.

By the numbers: There have been 40,341 fires in the Amazon this year, per the New York Times. More than 1,330 square miles burned in the first 7 months of 2019. The largest swaths of the Amazon rainforest, in Brazil and Peru, are burning at the highest rates since records began in 2013 — a rise of 84% compared to the same period last year, according to INPE.

Go deeperArrowAug 25, 2019

G7 leaders agree to $20 million aid package for Amazon fires

French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Jeff J. Mitchell/Pool/Getty Images

World leaders at the G7 summit agreed Monday to a $20 million aid package to help Brazil and neighboring South American countries fight fires in the Amazon rainforest, according to an announcement from French President Emmanuel Macron and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera.

Why it matters: Macron has been a main driver in ensuring world leaders address the severe climate impact of deforestation in the Amazon despite Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's refusal of any foreign aid.

Go deeperArrowAug 26, 2019