Fires and their politics

Brasil's President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Fotos Bolsonaro, licensed under CC PDM 1.0


The proclaimed ‘Brazilian Trump’, Jair Bolsonaro took control of Brazil this year and recently made headlines for his original disapproval and non-acceptance of a large-scale French donation for Amazon fire damages.

He instead chose to opt for ‘further reforestation’ through individual tree planting. 

According to Pheobe Watson’s ‘Armed officers in charge of defending Amazon from loggers’ article for the Independent, the Bolsonaro government has been shown to be reducing the number of armed forces protecting the Amazon region and transferring them elsewhere.

“Its operations have declined sharply since the start of this year and the agency’s funding for discretionary spending and enforcement operations this year faces a 24 per cent cut, a significant blow to what two experts described as an already small budget.”

This comes in the wake of the large fires that broke out across four major Amazonian states, Amazonas, Rondônia, Matto Grosso and Pará.

Regarded as ‘the lungs of Earth’, the region is responsible for 20 per cent of Earth’s oxygen progression and absorbs 1.6 gigatons of carbon a year. So far, 17% has been deforested, and if it reaches 25%, the region will become a global emergency.

(Current Amazon damage, CopernicusEU’s Atmosphere monitoring service

According to The Atlantic article ‘The Amazon Cannot Be Recovered Once It’s Gone’, the severe 74,000+ fires across Brazil this year alone are manmade, politically caused due to an unwillingness to properly prepare or safeguard fire spread.

“These fires did not start by a lightning strike or power line: they were ignited. And while they largely affect land already cleared for ranching and farming, they can and do spread into old-growth forest.”

Far away from the rainforests, many are not aware that these severe and often manmade disasters are often apart of a bigger political move that has occasionally gone wrong. 

In the case of Brazil, it links strongly to the original political campaign run by Jair Bolsonaro, the current president, who stated he wishes to ‘weaken the amazon protective laws’ and possibly make way for new infrastructure and land. 

Bolsonaro, who has been in and out of controversy recently, has been labelled as irrational and irresponsible when it comes to the wildfires.

He had no official statement for the first couple of weeks the fire was raging across the Amazonian region, pushing doubt in his motives towards protecting the region.

These moves to push more protection out of the Amazonian ruins will possibly only further the destruction caused by loggers and other criminal activities attempting to get a fortune out of the fires. 

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I am a third year Communications (Journalism) student studying Bachelors at Deakin University Burwood, and a fellow contributor to the D*scribe Website! My passion for Journalism has always focused around the gathering of information that people would not normally receive. Investigation is exciting, and journalism is full of it. I love to focus on the world, events happening overseas, and the way different cultures can differ from us in Australia. I’d also like to provide media support for the Victorian Police at some stage. It is an aim for me to possibly find work in the police media system, or work alongside government as some sort of criminal reporter. I really enjoy the information distribution that Journalism can offer to students like us, and hate the idea of people having misinformed prejudices, in turn creating biased opinions that can fester and manipulate truths. Journalism is about exposing the truths for all of us, keeping the public informed and in my opinion, stopping injustice at its roots. It should be our responsibility to upkeep ethical standards in our reports, and make sure our opinions are kept in check in order to properly inform, not just convince others.


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