The destruction of the Amazon by fires has greatly accelerated and is 30% above the historical average. The alert system of the Laboratory of Environmental Satellite Applications at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (LASA/UFRJ) shows that the total amount of forest burned in 2022 already exceeds that of 2021.
By 07/13/22, 622 thousand hectares had already been burned. In the same period in 2021, 490 thousand hectares of forests had been turned to ash in the Amazon. In both 2021 and more so in 2022, the number of hectares destroyed by fire was above the historical average of the last 10 years, which is 440 thousand hectares, from January 1 to July 13 and about the same period in 2021. In the last seven days, there was an average of 10 thousand hectares of forest destroyed by fire per day, equivalent to 10,000 soccer fields burned a day in the Amazon.
“Disaster is far from natural. It is the result of human action”, says the coordinator of LASA, Renata Libonati.
Fires in humid forests, like the Amazon, are linked to human action. Libonati explains that fire is used in the deforestation process or to clear pasture. “First, you cut down the forest. Afterwards, the material is piled up, the wood is allowed to dry, and a fire is set to dispose of it. This almost always spirals out of control and spills over into the adjacent forest.”
The data from LASA are added to those from INPE – Instituto de Pesquisas Espaciais — and other detection systems and reinforce the projections that the Amazon could suffer unprecedented destruction in the coming months.
Brazil is among the 7 largest GHG emitters that are responsible for global warming. However, unlike in other countries where emissions are associated with progress, industrialization, and consumption, in our case, they stem from criminal activities that include deforestation, illegal logging, illegal mining, and land grabbing. The loss of forests and changes in land use are responsible for the largest share of gross Brazilian emissions — 46%.
A toxic environmental policy, with the dismantling of inspection bodies, added to leniency with clandestine activities of loggers, prospectors, and land grabbers, created an environment conducive to the practice of illegalities and harmful to the environment.
We now have a greater challenge to continue working tirelessly to demonstrate that society and the Brazilian productive sector stand firm behind the Paris Agreement and seek to protect the forests and our climate.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Brazil Country Manager Carlos Alexandre de Oliviera