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Brazil addresses climate emergency by urging landowners to halt Amazon fires

October 18, 2023

In a recent mandate, Brazil’s government issued a directive to farmers and ranchers, urging them to refrain from setting fires in the Amazon rainforest.

This move comes as growing concerns over air quality arise due to the dense gray smoke engulfing the northern city of Manaus.

Violators of this directive could face sanctions.

Climate emergency in Brazil: government steps in

According to a report from Channel News Asia, Environment Minister Marina Silva highlighted the unnatural occurrence of fires in the Amazon, emphasizing that: “Fire is not natural in the Amazon, it comes from criminal actions or deforestation.”

She further revealed: “There are people criminally setting fire to public and private areas.”

The Amazon rainforest, known as the world’s largest, is currently grappling with an unprecedented drought exacerbated by the El Nino weather event.

This drought amplifies the detrimental impacts of the region’s annual burning ritual.

Historically, this period marks an increase in fires in the Amazon as the rains diminish.

This trend aids ranchers and farmers who employ fire as a tool to clear lands for cattle grazing and commercial agriculture.

Cities in crisis due to drought and wildfires

In a concerning update, 60 out of 62 cities in the northern Amazonas state have proclaimed a state of emergency.

This declaration stems from the devastating effects of drought and rampant wildfires, with the month of October projected to pose significant challenges.

To combat the crisis, Silva announced that the government plans to deploy over 300 firefighters and two aircraft to battle the flames.

Rodrigo Agostinho, the chief of the environment agency IBAMA, stated that stringent actions await those who intentionally set fires on private lands.

Consequences include the embargo of their properties and disqualification from obtaining financial aid.

Turning the tide on deforestation

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva remains committed to addressing environmental concerns that escalated during the tenure of his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

This commitment has been evident with a 49.5% reduction in deforestation within the first nine months of 2023, as shared by preliminary figures from the space research agency INPE.

Emphasizing the severity of the situation, Silva declared: “Right now we’re in a climate emergency in Brazil.”

FSJA Comment

The current crisis unfolding in Brazil’s Amazon region sheds light on the broader issue of global environmental concerns.

The Amazon, often dubbed the “lungs of the Earth”, plays a critical role in our global ecosystem.

The actions and policies of nations directly impact not just local regions but the world at large.

As fires rage and drought intensifies, it underscores the urgent need for international cooperation and swift policy implementation to protect our shared environment.

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