'ALL YOU CAN SEE IS SMOKE': Sky never goes dark while Amazon burns

'ALL YOU CAN SEE IS SMOKE': Sky never goes dark while Amazon burns
August 22, 2019
August 22, 2019 10:43 AM EDT
Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho, Brazil August 21, 2019. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
HUMAITA — There are no lights in sight but the night sky glows a dusky yellow, for the Amazon is burning.
The smell is of barbecue, of wood charcoal up in flames. During the day the sun, usually so fierce in these parts, is obscured by thick gray smoke.
For the last seven days Reuters has repeatedly driven a 30-kilometre through the jungle.
At first, on Wednesday of last week the raging fire stood just a few meters off the roadway, the yellow flames engulfing trees and lighting up the sky. By the weekend the fire had receded into the distance but cast an orange glow several stories high.
The fire is just one of thousands currently decimating the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest and a bulwark against climate change.
Wildfires have surged 83% so far this year when compared to the same period in 2018, according to Brazil’s space research agency INPE.
The government agency has registered 72,843 fires, the highest number since records began in 2013. More than 9,500 have been spotted by satellites since last Thursday alone.
On Wednesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro enraged environmentalists by making unfounded claims that non-governmental organizations were starting the fires out of anger after he cut their funding.
Global outrage has torn through social media, with #PrayforAmazonas the world’s top trending topic on Twitter on Wednesday.
Reuters observed plumes of smoke billowing from the forest, reaching dozens of metres into the air, during a weeklong trip to southern Amazonas and northern Rondonia states.
“All you can see is smoke,” said Thiago Parintintin, who lives in an indigenous reserve just off the Trans-Amazonian highway, pointing to the horizon.
A yellow truck bearing the logo of Brazil’s forest fire fighters had just rushed past.
“It didn’t use to be like this,” Parintintin added.
A 22-year-old trained indigenous environmental agent, Parintintin blames the increasing development of the Amazon for bringing agriculture and deforestation, resulting in rising temperatures during the dry season.
Fires start in the underbrush that has been drying over the dry season. Smoke envelopes still lush patches of fronds and palm trees, as the understory smolders before the upper tiers of vegetation catch fire.
Environmentalists also say farmers set the forest alight to clear land for cattle grazing.
The smoke from the resulting fires hangs at the horizon like a fog.
Gabriel Albuquerque, a pilot in Rondonia state’s capital city of Porto Velho, said that in four years of flying his small propeller plane it has never been this bad.
“It is the first time that I’ve ever seen it like this,” he said, as he prepared to go up.
From the sky, the fires ranged from small pockets to those bigger than a football field, with the smoke making it impossible to see behind the front line of flames to discern the full extent of the blaze.
Sometimes the smoke was so thick the forest itself appeared to have disappeared.

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Brazil's Bolsonaro tells world leaders to mind your own business as Amazon burns
August 22, 2019
August 22, 2019 8:18 PM EDT
Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil, on Aug. 14, 2019.Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters
BRASILIA/SAO PAULO — Amid growing international criticism over the wildfires raging through the Amazon, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday admitted farmers could be illegally setting the rainforest ablaze but told foreign powers not to interfere.
French President Emmanuel Macron and United Nations Secretary General António Guterres both took to Twitter to express concern about the fires that have reached a record number this year, devastating vast swathes of forest considered a vital bulwark against climate change.
Bolsonaro responded angrily to what he regarded as meddling.
“These countries that send money here, they don’t send it out of charity. … They send it with the aim of interfering with our sovereignty,” he said in a Facebook Live broadcast.
But earlier on Thursday, he said that Brazil alone lacked the resources to control the fires.
“The Amazon is bigger than Europe, how will you fight criminal fires in such an area?” he asked reporters as he left the presidential residence. “We do not have the resources for that.”
Fires in the Amazon have surged 83% so far this year compared with the same period a year earlier, government figures show.
Although fires are a regular and natural occurrence during the dry season at this time of year, environmentalists blamed the sharp rise on farmers setting the forest alight to clear land for pasture.
Farmers may have had at least tacit encouragement from the firebrand right-wing president, who took power in January. Bolsonaro has repeatedly said he believes Brazil should open the Amazon up to business interests, to allow mining, agricultural and logging companies to exploit its natural resources.
On Wednesday, he blamed non-governmental organizations for setting the fires, without providing evidence. He appeared to row back on Thursday, when he said for the first time that farmers could be behind the fires.
Macron took to Twitter to call the Amazon fires an “international crisis” that should be discussed by the G7 summit that will begin on Saturday in Biarritz, France. The Group of Seven rich countries does not include Brazil.
Guterres said he was “deeply concerned” by the fires, adding, “We cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity.”
Federal prosecutors in Brazil said they were investigating a spike in deforestation and wildfires raging in the Amazon state of Pará to determine whether there has been reduced monitoring and enforcement of environmental protections.
Prosecutors said they would look into an ad that they said was published in a local newspaper encouraging farmers to participate in a “Fire Day,” in which they would burn large areas of forest “to show Bolsonaro their willingness to work.”
Colombia, home to part of the northern Amazon, on Thursday offered its support in the fight to protect the forest.
“Colombian authorities are already working to contain the propagation of these fires toward Colombian territory and we are willing to collaborate with our neighbours in this common cause,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Brazil is facing growing international criticism over its handling of the Amazon, 60% of which lies in the country.
Earlier this month, Norway and Germany suspended funding for projects to curb deforestation in Brazil after becoming alarmed by changes to the way projects were selected under Bolsonaro.
At the time, when asked about the loss of German funding, Bolsonaro said, “Brazil does not need that.”
An aerial view of a deforested plot of the Amazon near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil, on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters
Others were less sanguine.
Brazil’s lower house speaker, Rodrigo Maia, said on Twitter he would create “an external committee” to monitor the burning of the rainforest, and he vowed to form a group “to evaluate the situation and propose solutions to the government.”
The Bishops Conference for Latin America expressed concern about the “tragedy,” and on Thursday called on countries to take immediate action to protect the rainforest and nearby communities.
“We urge the governments of the Amazon countries, especially Brazil and Bolivia, the United Nations and the international community to take serious measures to save the world’s lungs,” it said.
Wildfires are also raging in Bolivia, where officials estimate that an area the size of the U.S. state of Delaware has burned in recent days.


Environmentalists also say farmers set the forest alight to clear land for cattle grazing.

Of course they do because they either don't know or don't want to admit the real culprit today and for the last 15 years; Soybeans.

Even several varieties of Amazon wood are very popular globally like mahoganies, Amazonian Cedars and Brazilian Rosewoods. That demand leads to a LOT of illegal logging.

As well, the Brazilian govt has offered incentive programs to increase cocao production, among other crops. Meanwhile cocao farming is now one of the leading causes of deforestation in the zones it's grown in around the world.
Why shouldn’t Brazilians burn down trees?

The Western hysteria over the rainforest fires is riddled with colonial arrogance.

Brendan O'Neill

23rd August 2019

Every now and then the environmentalist mask slips. And we get a glimpse of the elitist and authoritarian movement that lurks beneath the hippyish green facade. The hysteria over the rainforest fires in Brazil is one of those moments. As well-off, privileged Westerners rage against Brazil for having the temerity to use its resources as it sees fit, and as they even flirt with the idea of sending outside forces to take charge of the Amazon, we can see the borderline imperialist mindset that motors so much green thinking. In the space of a few days, greens have gone from saying ‘We care about the planet!’ to ‘How dare these spics defy our diktats?’. And it is a truly clarifying moment.

You don’t have to be a fan of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, and spiked certainly isn’t, to feel deeply uncomfortable with the Western outrage over his policy on the rainforest. Observers claim the Amazon is experiencing its highest number of fires since records began. That those records only began in 2013 should give the Western hysterics pause for thought – this isn’t the historically unprecedented End of Days event they claim it is. There are always fires in the Amazon, some started by nature, others by human beings logging or clearing land for farming. Some of the current fires were started by people who need wood or land – how dare they! – while others are just part of the natural cycle.

More tellingly, NASA has attempted to counter the hysteria. Its data suggests that, while the number of fires might be larger than in the past few years, ‘overall fire activity’ in the Amazon is ‘slightly below average this year’. How striking that the people who wave around NASA reports when making their case that mankind has had a terrible impact on the planet are ignoring NASA’s reports that there is less fire in the Amazon this year in comparison with the past 15 years.

The Brazil-bashers will not be convinced by reason. To them, the fact that there have been 74,000 fires in the Amazon between January and August is proof that human beings – well, stupid Brazilians – are plunging the planet into a fiery doom that will make Revelations look like a fairy story in comparison. The earth is ‘being killed’, greens wail. ‘Our house is burning. Literally’, says French president Emmanuel Macron, committing the grammar crime of saying ‘literally’ when he surely means ‘virtually’. Unless the Elysée Palace really is on fire?

Leonardo DiCaprio says ‘if the Amazon goes, we the humans will go’. So Brazil is killing us all. Bolsonaro, by giving a green light to development in the rainforest, is holding a gun to mankind’s head, apparently. No wonder Macron has suggested holding an international conference on how to save the rainforest, while some greens have said we need to intervene. Westerners going overseas to rescue natural resources from the ignorant natives? Yes, that went so well in the past.

The discussion about the rainforest is not only unhinged, using Biblical language to describe fairly routine events. It is also riddled with a colonialist view in which people in the developing world are presented as irresponsible and destructive, while Westerners, like the leader of France, are held up as the saviours of nature and mankind. This expresses one of the key ideas in the environmentalist movement – that the developing world cannot possibly industrialise and modernise as much as the West has, because if it does the planet will die. Hence eco-Westerners’ fury with ‘filthy’ China, their loathing of Modi’s promises of modernity in India, and now their rage against Bolsonaro for elevating economic development over natural conservation. They cannot believe these idiot foreigners are defying green ideology and seeking the kind of progress we Westerners already enjoy.

Indeed, the current fuming over Bolsonaro and the rainforest fires has been a long time coming. When he spoke at Davos in January, one headline summed up the response: ‘Bolsonaro alarms climate activists with pro-business speech.’ Environmentalists were horrified, the Guardian reported, that Bolsonaro ‘stressed that protecting his country’s unique ecosystem has to be consistent with growing the economy’. That is, Bolsonaro had the gall to suggest that the eco-sanctification of the entire rainforest ran counter to Brazil’s own need to develop – via agriculture, logging, urban expansion, and so on – and therefore a better balance would have to be struck between protecting ecosystems and achieving economic growth.

During the presidential campaign last year, Bolsonaro often argued that Brazil’s economic development was being stymied by ‘the world’s affection for the Amazon’. He said that companies interested in clearing parts of the rainforest would be allowed to do so. That he won the presidency suggests many Brazilians share his view that the Amazon has been sanctified at the expense of Brazilian growth and Brazilian sovereignty. And on this they are right, and the rich Western greens telling them to stop being so dumb and irrational are wrong.

For years, green-leaning NGOs have been swarming Latin America and using their clout to demonise and even try to reverse economic development. And Latin Americans rightly experience this as an assault on their sovereignty and aspirations. As early as 1972, UNESCO and WWF were writing to the Brazilian president, Emílio Garrastazu Médici, and warning him to halt economic activities in the rainforest. In the 1980s, there was an intensification of efforts by NGOs and outside forces to keep the rainforest as sacred ground that Brazilians shouldn’t interfere with. French president Francois Mitterrand even suggested Brazil should accept relative sovereignty, where a significant part of its territory – the rainforest areas – would be subject to international oversight. As one account describes it, many in Brazil came to see NGOs and others as ‘collaborating with foreign powers against Brazilian economic interests’. And it wasn’t only Brazil. Ecuador and Peru have both expelled foreign-funded NGOs over their agitation against development in forest areas and other natural areas.

Brazil is either a sovereign nation or it isn’t. If it is a sovereign nation, then it has every right to pursue economic growth as it sees fit. The rainforest belongs to Brazilians. A Brazilian approach that boosts economic development while keeping a close eye on the natural environment sounds like a good one. But it horrifies Western greens who are allergic to any kind of meaningful economic development. Under the guise of environmentalism they are pursuing the ugly old colonial goal of subjugating non-Western nations to their rules and diktats. And that’s far more horrifying than a few fires in the Amazon.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show . Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy


Ecuador and Peru have both expelled foreign-funded NGOs over their agitation against development in forest areas and other natural areas.

Well it's official. Ecuador and Peru are smarter than Canada.
HOT AIR! Celebs sowing Amazon disinformation
Postmedia News
August 23, 2019
August 23, 2019 4:32 PM EDT
In this file photo taken on August 21, 2018 Madonna poses in the press room at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City.ANGELA WEISS / AFP/Getty Images
The Amazon is burning and celebs spreading misinformation isn’t cooling the situation down.
High-profile celebs, star athletes, and politicians have dimwittedly been posting on social media about the raging Amazon fires, yet in many cases, the photos being shared are years old or are not even of the crucial rainforest, France24 reports.
Madonna, Christiano Ronaldo, Leonardo DiCaprio, and even French President Emmanuel Macron have taken to social media to air their views on the fires.
However, using a simple reverse image search, you can determine when the images being shared were likely to have been taken and while not completely accurate it often leaves little doubt.
Macron wrote on Twitter: “Our house is burning, Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire.”
Accompanying his missive is a photo of a burning forest.
The image, however, can be traced back to American photojournalist Loren McIntyre, who died in 2003 and one estimate puts the age of the photo at 16-years-old.
Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days! #ActForTheAmazon pic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019
The president of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, also goofed on Twitter after posting a 2013 Reuters photo from journalist Nacho Doce.
Ronaldo — a soccer star with more than 180 million followers on Instagram — called on fans to #prayforamzonia despite sharing an image that isn’t even the Amazon.
“The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and it’s been burning for the past 3 weeks. It’s our responsibility to help to save our planet. #prayforamazonia,” Ronaldo wrote in the post.
The image is from 2013 and was taken by Lauro Alves from the Brazilian agency RBS.
DiCaprio also shared two inaccurate photos, one the same as Macron and another showing a 2016 view of the Peruvian city of Puerto Maldonado which is currently not on fire.
Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith, shared a 1989 image of a forest fire on Instagram, a post which has more than 1.5 million likes.
He wrote in all caps, “This is terrible it’s one of the biggest carbon sinks in the world.”
Brazil’s Bolsonaro tells world leaders to mind your own business as Amazon burns
‘ALL YOU CAN SEE IS SMOKE’: Sky never goes dark while Amazon burns
Madonna threw her hat into the false information ring, sharing the same image as Smith on Instagram.
She also seemingly placed the blame for the fires on the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro.
She wrote on Instagram: “President Bolsonaro please change your policies and help not only your country but the entire planet. No economic development is more important than protecting this land,” adding, “We need to wake up!!”
Brazilian states ask for military help as Amazon fires rage
August 24, 2019
August 24, 2019 3:42 PM EDT
A labourer looks at a fire that spread to the farm he works on next to a highway in northern Mato Grosso State, Brazil, on August 23, 2019. (JOAO LAET/AFP/Getty Images)
BRASILIA — Six states in Brazil’s Amazon region requested military help on Saturday to combat record fires that are tearing through the rainforest, provoking an international outcry because of the Amazon’s central role in combating global warming.
The states of Para, Rondonia, Roraima, Tocantins, Acre and Mato Grosso – out of the region’s nine – have requested military assistance, according to a spokeswoman for the president’s office, a day after President Jair Bolsonaro authorized the military to step in.
The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and its protection is seen as vital to the fight against climate change because of the vast amounts of carbon dioxide it absorbs.
Brazil has 44,000 troops stationed in its northern Amazon region that are available to combat forest fires and could send more from elsewhere in the country, said Raul Botelho, the joint chief of staff for the country’s military.
In a briefing with reporters, Botelho and other officials did not say how many troops would be involved and gave few operational details of how they would be used and where.
Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo said forces would be concentrated in certain areas depending on the individual mission.
For example, in Porto Velho in Rondonia state, two planes would be made available that have capacity to carry 12,000 liters of water mixed with fire retardant, as well as an infantry brigade, river patrol forces and the local office of the Defense Ministry’s Amazon monitoring unit, he said.
On Saturday, fewer than 50 personnel will be sent from Brasilia to Porto Velho in Rondonia state to support operations there, including 30 firefighters and 18 communications specialists, Botelho said.
Alfredo Sirkis, executive director of think tank Brazil Climate Center and a founder of Brazil’s Green Party, said while he supported military involvement, he doubted that anyone would be able to put out the existing fires.
“Once you have a huge forest fire like that, especially when you don’t have all the kind of forest fire-fighting equipment that you have in places like the U.S. or Portugal, it’s difficult to extinguish,” he said. “They’ll only be extinguished by themselves depending on the weather conditions.”
The military can help to prevent additional forest fires by enforcing environmental laws and stopping people from setting the fires, Sirkis said.
Environmentalists have said that farmers clearing land for pasture were responsible for the uptick in fires.
Similarly, Sirkis blamed the fires on speculators seeking to clear the land they hope to later sell for farming, saying they have been emboldened by Bolsonaro’s strong rhetoric in favor of development of the Amazon region.
Bolsonaro enraged critics on Wednesday when he accused non-governmental organizations of burning down the Amazon rainforest to hurt his government. But on Thursday he admitted for the first time that farmers might be involved in lighting fires in the region.

Brazilian warplanes dump water on Amazon as military begins fighting fires
August 25, 2019
August 25, 2019 6:57 PM EDT
BRASILIA/PORTO VELHO — Brazilian warplanes are dumping water on the burning forest in the Amazon state of Rondonia, responding to a global outcry over the destruction of the world’s largest tropical rain forest.
As of Sunday, President Jair Bolsonaro had authorized military operations in seven states to combat raging fires in the Amazon, responding to requests for assistance from their local governments, a spokeswoman for his office said.
Reuters accompanied a firefighting brigade near the state capital of Porto Velho, where there were areas larger than football fields that had been charred, but active fires were contained to small areas of individual trees.
The dozen or so yellow clad firefighters from environmental enforcement agency Ibama easily cleared brush from around a burning stump with a leaf blower, doused it with jets connected to water packs mounted on their backs and covered it in earth.
A video posted by the Defense Ministry on Saturday evening showed a military plane pumping thousands of liters (thousands of gallons) of water out of two giant jets as it passed through clouds of smoke close to the forest canopy.
The response comes as leaders of countries in the Group of Seven (G7) nations currently meeting in France expressed grave concerns over the fires.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said the G7 was nearing a deal to provide “technical and financial help” to countries affected by the Amazon fires.
Nearly 80,000 fires have been registered across Brazil through Aug. 24, the highest since at least 2013, according to space research agency INPE.
A burning tract of Amazon jungle is pictured in Porto Velho, Brazil August 25, 2019. (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes) RICARDO MORAES / REUTERS
Bolsonaro announced the military would be sent in on Friday after several days of criticism from the public and world leaders that Brazil’s government was not doing anything to fight the fires.
He also said on Twitter he had accepted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer of a plane and specialized support for the firefighting operations, following a call between the two leaders.
But outside of Rondonia, the government had yet to provide any operational details for other states. The Defense Ministry said in a briefing on Saturday that 44,000 troops were available in Brazil’s northern Amazon region but did not say how many would be used where and what they would do.
Military personnel around Porto Velho appeared to be largely coordinating firefighting efforts, according to a Reuters witness.
Asked for additional details, the Defense Ministry told Reuters in a statement that in all seven states that have asked for help, the military is planning operations to support firefighting initiatives already underway.
Justice Minister Sergio Moro had also authorized a force of military police to assist in fighting the fires, with 30 set to be sent from Brasilia to Porto Velho. The president’s office posted to Twitter a photo of police officers on a plane bound for Rondonia set to arrive at noon.
Environment Minister Ricardo Salles posted a video showing a caravan of yellow fire prevention trucks and other government vehicles, saying they were on the ground responding in Rondonia.
Colombian President Ivan Duque said on Sunday he would seek a conservation pact with other Amazonian countries – first in bi-lateral meetings in Peru this week and then at the United Nations General Assembly.
Brazilian states ask for military help as Amazon fires rage
Brazil’s Bolsonaro tells world leaders to mind your own business as Amazon burns
‘ALL YOU CAN SEE IS SMOKE’: Sky never goes dark while Amazon burns
“Colombia wants to lead a pact, a conservation pact, between the countries that have Amazon territory,” Duque said after meeting with an indigenous community in the Amazonian city of Leticia in southern Colombia. “We must understand the protection of our Mother Earth and our Amazon is a duty, a moral duty.”
The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rain forest and is seen as vital to the fight against climate change because of the vast amounts of carbon dioxide that it absorbs.
The Amazon, which provides 20% of the planet’s oxygen, is home to an estimated one million indigenous people from up to 500 tribes as well some three million species of plants and animals, including jaguars, sloths, giant otters, river dolphins, howler monkeys, toucans, reptiles, frogs and insects.
Brazilian climate scientist Carlos Nobre said he worries if 20-25% of the ecosystem is destroyed that the Amazon could reach a tipping point, after which it would enter a self-sustaining period of dieback as the forest converts to savannah. Nobre warned that it is not far off with already 15-17% of the rain forest having been destroyed.

Macron: Brazilian women should be ashamed of Bolsonaro for mocking my wife
August 26, 2019
August 26, 2019 9:33 AM EDT
French President Emmanuel Macron (right) and his wife Brigitte Macron (centre) welcome Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at the Biarritz lighthouse, in southwestern France, ahead of a working dinner on Aug. 24, 2019, on the first day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.Francois Mori / Pool / AFP / Getty Images
BIARRITZ — Brazilian women are probably ashamed of President Jair Bolsonaro, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday, hitting back after the Brazilian leader mocked Macron’s wife on Facebook.
The leaders have been feuding in recent weeks, with Macron blaming Bolsonaro for fires in the Amazon and accusing him of lying about climate change policy.
Bolsonaro responded on Sunday to a Facebook post that compared the looks of his wife Michelle, 37, with Macron’s 66-year-old wife Brigitte.
“Do not humiliate the man hahahah,” Bolsonaro wrote, in a comment widely criticized as sexist.
Then @jairbolsonaro replied: "Do not humiliate the guy, ha ha," referring to @EmmanuelMacron.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) August 26, 2019
Asked about the incident at a news conference in Biarritz where G7 leaders are gathered for a summit, Macron said the comments were “extremely disrespectful” to his wife.
“It’s sad, it’s sad first of all for him and for Brazilians,” Macron said. “Brazilian women are probably feeling ashamed of their president.”
“Since I have a lot of esteem and respect for the people of Brazil, I hope they will very soon have a president who is up to the job,” Macron added.
Later on Monday, Bolsonaro denounced Macron’s plan for an international alliance to protect the Amazon, saying on Twitter that it would treat Brazil like a colony.
G7 leaders reach deal to offer help to fight wildfires in Amazon rainforest
Brazilian warplanes dump water on Amazon as military begins fighting fires
‘TEST OF UNITY’: Global disputes set to jolt G7 summit in French resort
Brazil was angered after Macron, in the run up to the G7 summit, tweeted a photo of the burning Amazon forest, writing: “Our house is burning. Literally.” Macron said he had been lied to by Bolsonaro over his commitments to fighting climate change.
In July, Bolsonaro cancelled a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian – getting a haircut instead.
Since taking office in January, Bolsonaro has railed against the enforcement of environmental regulations in Brazil and announced intentions to develop the Amazon region, where deforestation of the world’s largest rainforest by loggers, ranchers and speculators has surged this year.
Ron in Regina
Quote: Originally Posted by spaminator View Post

HOT AIR! Celebs sowing Amazon disinformation
Postmedia News
August 23, 2019
August 23, 2019 4:32 PM EDT
In this file photo taken on August 21, 2018 Madonna poses in the press room at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City.ANGELA WEISS / AFP/Getty Images
The Amazon is burning and celebs spreading misinformation isn’t cooling the situation down.
High-profile celebs, star athletes, and politicians have dimwittedly been posting on social media about the raging Amazon fires, yet in many cases, the photos being shared are years old or are not even of the crucial rainforest, France24 reports.
Madonna, Christiano Ronaldo, Leonardo DiCaprio, and even French President Emmanuel Macron have taken to social media to air their views on the fires.
However, using a simple reverse image search, you can determine when the images being shared were likely to have been taken and while not completely accurate it often leaves little doubt.....

Yeah, this is common. It's called "Virtue Signalling" in the 'do as I say & not as I do' camp of thought from attention whores. Sorry about the upcoming rant but we're all due one once in a while. It's common on the AGW/Cooling/Warming/Changing/Emergency/Your House Is On Fire/Etc... topic. I'll try to keep this brief as I've a date with my Girlfriend to binge-watch a series on NetFlix.

I encourage independent thought and think we all owe it to ourselves to learn something new everyday. We live in very cool times with the Interwebs where we all carry around the equivalent of several sets of encyclopedia and every library everywhere and almost all daily newspapers....in our pockets on our phones. The only excuse to ignorance is time to learn depending on ones own life situation.

Anyway, "Virtue Signalling." I see it with this topic in the whole "If you aren't screaming with your fingers in your ears you're working for Big Oil" somehow instead of being capable of independent thought and thus must be a Climate Denier (but a denier of what I ask?) !!" Don't think but just toe the line! Nothing to see here and stop asking questions 'cuz the science is settled 'cuz someone told me to say so!! Really???

"Virtue Signalling" with the Irregular Refugees when you believe in the rule of law and respect those that follow it. Those immigrants and refugees that enter the Canadian system legally and correctly have my complete respect, and the ones jumping across the border not at actual border crossings and then dumping themselves on the Canadian taxpayers instead of doing it right and legally like all the others they're cutting in line in front of don't have my respect. The Pompous Arse's that state, "If you're questioning the legality of 'Irregular Refugees' then You're a Racist!! Don't think but just toe the line! Nothing to see here and stop asking questions 'cuz this is what some Dillhole is flogging as the official party line and I believe this 'cuz someone told me to say so!! Really??? You know who's really pissed off at the whole Irregular Immigrants thing? Actually recent immigrants who are still waiting for their Landed Immigrant Status or Citizenship who did it legally and got in line (dotting the I's & crossing the T's & paying the fee's & put in the time).

"Virtue Signalling" with the whole "If you're not Marching in a LGBTQ-LMNOP... Parade you're a Homophobe" or what have you. Don't think but just toe the line! Nothing to see here and stop asking questions 'cuz that just makes you Intolerant or some such malarkey. I have Friends & Family & Friends Family that are Gay and I don't care about their gender or sexual preferences because we're not trying to sleep with each other. They have their thing & I have mine and it doesn't conflict with each other so it's a total non-issue. I'm not putting on a pink shirt and marching in parades, but I'll get them a chair and a beer and a burger at the next backyard BBQ at our place and then we'll all shoot the breeze until it gets too cold outside on our covered deck (It's been a really cold summer here). Does that make me intolerant? It makes Andrew Sheer Intolerant somehow. It's laughable but it's happening in some of our media outlets.

I can go on & on here but I've got a date with my girl and things to do so I've gotta run. Doing us all a favour and cutting the rant short. Have a good night folks!

Brazil, Bolivia assessing needs after Canada offers $15M aid for Amazon fires
Canadian Press
August 27, 2019
August 27, 2019 2:50 PM EDT
OTTAWA — Canada’s offer of money and water bombers to help Amazon countries battle raging wildfires threatening the “lungs of the planet” is still being assessed by Brazil and other nations in the Amazon basin, Canadian officials say.
Adam Austen, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said Tuesday the $15 million Canada has put on the table itself is distinct from US$20 million in firefighting money offered to the South American nations at the end of the G7 leaders’ summit in France Monday.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has rejected the G7 offer amid a spat with French President Emmanuel Macron but Austen said Brazil, Bolivia and other countries affected by the fires are still looking at the separate proposal from Canada.
“Countries are currently assessing their needs and Canada stands ready to help,” Austen said.
Brazil to accept G7 Amazon aid only if Macron withdraws ‘insults’
There has been much confusion even within the Canadian government about exactly what Canada has offered to help with the fires and exactly what Bolsonaro has rejected. In fact, 24 hours after the G7 leaders hurriedly announced their monetary offer at the end of their meetings in France, Freeland’s office still wasn’t sure how much Canada was contributing to it.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna also was under the impression that Bolsonaro’s rejection covered Canada’s offer after reports he wouldn’t accept the G7 cash unless Macron apologizes for an aide’s calling Bolsonaro a liar over previous climate-change commitments.
McKenna told reporters in Toronto it was a shame Bolsonaro had rejected the money but that other countries in the Amazon region would be willing to accept the help. She said Environment Canada is already helping Argentina with technology to map how air pollution disperses, as it deals with smoke lingering in the air from the massive number of fires.
McKenna’s spokeswoman later said Freeland’s office had more current information than McKenna did.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of fires burning in the Amazon this year, a fact environmental scientists blame on rapid deforestation under Bolsonaro. The Brazilian president denies his policies have anything to do with the fires, blaming them on everything from weather to activists trying to discredit him.
At 5.5 million square kilometres, the Amazon rainforest is covers an area more than five times the size of Ontario. Much of it is in Brazil but it extends into several neighbouring countries.
It is a critical area for both the earth’s climate and the species that inhabit the forest itself. The Amazon produces one-fifth of the world’s oxygen supply, is home to one-fifth of its fresh water and half of all the planet’s animals, plants and insects. It also works as a significant carbon sink, with its growing plants absorbing vast amounts of carbon dioxide every year.
If the rainforest burns it releases some of that stored carbon, and with fewer trees it is unable to absorb as much. Scientists also report that the amount of carbon dioxide the Amazon can absorb has fallen by at least one-third, partly due to logging and agricultural activities and partly due to damage caused to the remaining trees from other influences.
Macron and other G7 leaders put the Amazon fires on their weekend agenda, resulting Monday in the announcement they would jointly provide the US$20 million to help fight the fires across the Amazon.
A Canadian official, speaking on background because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, indicated that separate from the G7 summit, Canada considered its own assistance after Brazilian authorities quietly began making inquiries about what Canada might do to help last week. Those inquiries resulted in the $15 million Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced while still in France for the G7 summit Monday.
Macron must take back 'insults' for Brazil to accept G7 Amazon aid: Bolsonaro
August 27, 2019
August 27, 2019 2:40 PM EDT
BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday he wants French President Emmanuel Macron to withdraw the “insults” made against him before he considers accepting a $20 million offer from the G7 nations to help fight forest fires in the Amazon.
The two leaders have become embroiled in a deeply personal and public war of words in recent days, with Bolsonaro mocking Macron’s wife and accusing the French leader of disrespecting Brazil’s sovereignty. Macron has called Bolsonaro a liar, and said Brazilian women are probably ashamed of their president.
The fires in the Amazon have created a major crisis for Bolsonaro’s far-right government. The Brazilian leader is losing popularity at home and finding himself increasingly isolated on the global stage over his response to blazes that threaten what many view as a key bulwark against global climate change.
His response to the fires is being closely watched by world leaders increasingly concerned by climate change, and could threaten Brazil’s trade deals and powerful agribusiness sector, which is a crucial driver of its recession-plagued economy.
However, the offer of aid from the Group of Seven wealthy nations, which was made at a leaders summit in the southern French town of Biarritz on Monday, has stirred up emotions within Bolsonaro’s nationalist government. Some officials are grateful for the much-needed help, and others view it as a colonial token that undermines Brazil’s control of its lands.
Bolsonaro raised Macron’s ire on Sunday when the Brazilian leader responded to a Facebook post that compared the looks of his wife Michelle, 37, with Macron’s 66-year-old wife Brigitte. “Do not humiliate the man hahahah,” Bolsonaro wrote, in a comment widely criticized as sexist.
Macron, who has accused Bolsonaro of lying about climate change policy, called the remarks “extremely disrespectful” to his wife.
On Tuesday, Bolsonaro said he would only countenance accepting G7 money if Macron retracted his earlier comments.
“First of all, Macron has to withdraw his insults. He called me a liar. Before we talk or accept anything from France … he must withdraw these words then we can talk,” Bolsonaro told reporters in Brasilia. “First he withdraws, then offers (aid), then I will answer.”
The French president’s office declined to comment on Bolsonaro’s remarks.
Later, in an at-times fraught discussion with members of his cabinet and governors of Amazon states, Bolsonaro said he did not have anything against the G7 countries, but rather against the president of one of them – a thinly veiled reference to Macron.
He also said he appreciated the environmental work of the G7, but said any efforts to harm Brazil’s agribusiness sector would hurt Latin America’s largest economy.
Other members of his team took a more adversarial tone.
“Where they have passed they have left a trail of destruction, confusion and misery, so they can’t give that kind of advice to anyone,” Augusto Heleno, a retired Brazilian general who is Bolsonaro’s top security adviser, said about France. He also labeled Macron’s posture as childish.
In a boost for the Brazilian leader, U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted his support for Bolsonaro, an ideological peer on the environment, China and trade.
Bolsonaro “is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil – Not easy. He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!” Trump tweeted.
The Brazilian president responded on Twitter: “We’re fighting the wildfires with great success. Brazil is and will always be an international reference in sustainable development.”
Leaders of the G7 made the aid offer after discussing the fires ravaging the world’s largest tropical rainforest – often dubbed “the lungs of the world.”
Initially, as the fires gained global headlines, Bolsonaro said Brazil did not have the resources to tackle the blazes. Then, in the wake of the G7 offer, his Environment Minister Ricardo Salles called the aid “welcome.”
Brazil, Bolivia assessing needs after Canada offers $15M aid for Amazon fires
However, on Monday evening, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff Onyx Lorenzoni said Brazil would reject the G7 offer, although his office said that was his personal view.
Meanwhile, Norway’s environment minister called on major Norwegian companies with business in Brazil to ensure they do not contribute to destruction in the Amazon. In a meeting, the minister urged representatives of oil firm Equinor, fertilizer-maker Yara and aluminum producer Norsk Hydro to make sure their supply chains are not linked to deforestation.
The number of blazes recorded across the Brazilian Amazon has risen 79% this year through Aug. 25, according to Brazil’s space research agency. The fires are not limited to Brazil, with at least 10,000 square kilometers (about 3,800 square miles) burning in Bolivia, near its border with Paraguay and Brazil.
But Brazil is at the epicenter of the blazes, which Bolsonaro has blamed on environmentalists, non-government organizations and the weather. He has also said fires in the Amazon were more prevalent under previous left-wing governments.
Weak rainfall is unlikely to extinguish a record number of fires raging in Brazil’s Amazon anytime soon, with pockets of precipitation through Sept. 10 expected to bring only isolated relief, according to weather data and two experts.
What everyone gets wrong about the Amazon

Michael Shellenberger on the Amazon fires and the colonialism behind climate change.

30th August 2019

The fires in the Amazon have caused an international outcry – from politicians, the media, celebrities and environmental groups. The talk is of record levels of fires and deforestation, of human wickedness destroying the pristine natural environment. Apparently, we are even destroying ourselves in the process – the Amazon rainforests are the ‘lungs of the word’, which we rely on for our supply of oxygen, it is often claimed.

Michael Shellenberger, founder and president of Environmental Progress, and listed as a ‘hero of the environment’ by Time magazine, says we have got this all wrong. spiked caught up with him to find out more.

spiked: What did everyone get wrong about the Amazon?

Michael Shellenberger: Mostly everything. The first thing people need to understand is that there has been a huge decline in deforestation since its peak in the early 2000s. Deforestation is still 75 to 80 per cent lower than at this peak. Deforestation has been going up in recent years, but that rise didn’t start under the current Brazilian government. Clearly, much of the response from the Western media is a reaction to Bolsonaro – it’s not just about what’s happening on the ground.

The other big issue is that the Amazon is not ‘the lungs of the world’. It does not produce 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen. The idea that we need it for oxygen production is a myth. It’s just basic plant science: the Amazon uses about as much oxygen as it produces, through a process called respiration, which pulls nutrients out of the soil into the plants. This process accompanies photosynthesis.

We don’t need it for oxygen, and those of us that care about the natural environment – which is basically most people – have a lot of better reasons to want to protect it. But from the 1950s and 1960s onwards, conservationists realised that they could get a lot more media attention by telling people that environmental problems weren’t just problems that people should care about because they love the environment. Instead, they started to say that these were really problems that threatened an apocalypse or the end of the world. They have been doing this with basically every environmental problem.

It’s manipulative. It’s a sad commentary on the cynicism of many environmentalists and environmental scientists, who think that they can’t get people to care about nature and that we only care about ourselves.

spiked: Why is it dangerous to exaggerate the risks of the Amazon fires?

Shellenberger: Well, the big one is happening right now. President Bolsonaro, for public-relations needs, felt the need to send the military into the Amazon. The problem with this is that it frames the Amazon’s issues as being about ‘illegal’ activity. The picture that gets presented is that these fires are being created by criminals and vandals from outside the forests.

Thirty million people live in the Amazon. But whenever the Western media and environmentalists point to the people living in the Amazon, they only ever point to the indigenous people. But the indigenous people are just one million out of 30million. There are a lot of normal Brazilians there. These tend to be descendants of slaves or mixed-race people who are trying to make a living. They are not all ‘good’ or all ‘bad’. They are people developing the area in the same way Europeans developed Europe and Americans developed the United States. And if we want to protect more of the natural environment, we’re going to have to work with those people, not vilify and demonise them.

spiked: What is motivating the alarmism in the West?

Shellenberger: It’s like an onion you have to peel – there are so many reasons why. The first is, obviously, that you get more media attention through alarmism, and media attention is important to sustain and raise money for organisations. My own organisation, Environmental Progress, would have more money if I were more alarmist.

It’s also very noticeable to me that the people that engage in environmental alarmism tend to be secular and on the left. If you’re on the political right, in much of the Western world, you tend to have a traditional religion, with your own gods and your own view of the apocalypse. You don’t need a political ideology to fulfil that. After the fall of communism and the failure of Marxism more broadly, the left needed a new apocalyptic religion and that has become environmentalism.

spiked: What is motivating those who are not environmental activists, like President Macron?

Shellenberger: There is something else going on there. There is an effort to represent European economic interests over Brazilian interests. I think one of the most interesting things I discovered during my reporting on the Amazon is that Macron’s own farmers are offering a lot of resistance to the trade deal between the EU and Brazil, as it involves importing a lot of Brazilian food. That makes sense when you think about it. So Macron seems to be doing something that might allow him to not engage in this free-trade deal with Brazil.

I’m not some rah-rah free trader. I think trade has been great for Brazil in many ways, and it’s obviously had some negative consequences, too. But – and this is what spiked is so often good at pointing out – Macron’s moralising is in service of a self-interested agenda. This is unethical. It’s a strategy to hide self interest behind altruism.

spiked: Are there other environmental causes that are used in this way?

Shellenberger: In both of the two big environmental issues of our time – climate change and deforestation – you have the rich world saying to the developing world, ‘Oh, you know how we developed through deforestation and fossil-fuel consumption? You’re not going to be able to do either of those. And it just so happens that we have the science to show why you have to stay poor.’

I mean, what a scam, right? I’m fascinated by spiked because I think we’re similar as post-Marxists, which means we still retain the hermeneutics of suspicion. So when somebody is talking about how to ‘make the world a better place’, it’s worth asking yourself whether they are really advocating for a kind of control, if they are making a power move or if there is an agenda being dressed up as altruism.

The real ‘climate hoax’ is not that climate change isn’t happening. That’s ridiculous – of course, there is climate change. The real hoax is how climate change has been used to advance an agenda by rich nations to keep developing nations down, to deprive them of resources and to thwart their competitiveness internationally. It’s not a conspiracy, just a natural outcome of powerful countries acting in self-interest – but doing so in ways that you can talk about in polite company without sounding like an oppressive colonialist.

Michael Shellenberger was talking to Fraser Myers.

Amazon countries sign forest pact, promising to coordinate disaster response
September 6, 2019
September 6, 2019 5:48 PM EDT
(L tor R) Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil Ernesto Henrique Fraga Araujo, President of Bolivia Evo Morales, President of Peru Martin Vizcarra, President of Colombia Ivan Duque, President of Ecuador Lenin Moreno, Vice President of Suriname Michael Adhin and Minister of Natural Resources of Guyana Raphael Trotman sign the "Letica Pact for the Amazon" during the Summit of Presidents for the Amazon on September 6, 2019 in Leticia, Colombia. Getty Images
LETICIA — Seven Amazonian countries on Friday signed a pact to protect the world’s largest tropical forest via disaster response coordination and satellite monitoring, amid recent fires that torched thousands of square miles of the jungle.
The presidents of Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, the vice-president of Suriname and the natural resource minister of Guyana attended the one-day summit in the jungle city of Leticia in southern Colombia.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro participated by video link, while his foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, attended in person.
“This meeting will live on as a coordination mechanism for the presidents that share this treasure – the Amazon,” Colombian President Ivan Duque said at the signing, adding the countries will meet again at the United Nations Climate Change conference in December.
“Goodwill alone is not enough anymore,” Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra added.
The countries will create a natural disaster network so they can better cooperate in the face of events like large-scale fires, the pact said.
The group will also work on reforestation initiatives, increase efforts to monitor deforestation activity via satellite, develop education initiatives and increase the role of indigenous communities in sustainable development, it added.
The countries also agreed to share information on activities like illegal mining that hurt conservation, the pact said.
The group will “work together to strengthen the programs and financial mechanisms, reiterate the commitments made by countries in these scenarios, mobilize public and private resources, including the multilateral banks, as appropriate, for the implementation of this pact.”
Bolsonaro said in his remarks during the meeting that the pact was an affirmation of each country’s sovereignty.
Meanwhile, Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno opened by singing “Padre,” a song by Spanish singer Joan Manuel Serrat about environmental destruction.
Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon have surged in number by 83% this year, according to government data, destroying vast swathes of a vital bulwark against global climate change.
Some 60% of the forest is located in Brazil. The Amazon is also home to around 1 million people who are members of 500 indigenous groups.
Brazilian states ask for military help as Amazon fires rage
HOT AIR! Celebs sowing Amazon disinformation
Supermodel Gisele Bundchen fires back in feud with Brazilian minister
Fires have also raged in recent weeks in Bolivia.
Bolsonaro initially accused nongovernmental organizations of setting the fires, without providing any evidence, while environmentalists have warned his plans for more agriculture and mining in the region will speed up deforestation.
The far-right firebrand engaged in a public war of words with French President Emmanuel Macron, who called for more to be done to combat the fires.
'Day of Fire': Blazes ignite suspicion of farmers near Amazon rainforest
September 11, 2019
September 11, 2019 10:12 AM EDT
Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, Sept. 10, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
NOVO PROGRESSO — A maverick journalist in this isolated Brazilian ranching town warned his readers last month that the surrounding Amazon was about to go up in flames.
Queimadas, or burnings, are nothing new in Novo Progresso, located on the frontier where Brazil’s farmland edges the Amazon rainforest in the northern state of Para. Locals say farmers annually use fire to illegally clear pastures or newly deforested areas.
But the Aug. 5 article in the online Folha do Progresso was eerily specific about an upcoming “Day of Fire.”
It said growers and ranchers were planning to set a coordinated series of fires in the forest and nearby land on Saturday, Aug. 10, inspired in part by President Jair Bolsonaro. Brazil’s right-wing leader has vowed to open the world’s largest rainforest to more development. Punishment of environmental crimes has plummeted on his watch.
When the day came, the number of fires tripled from the prior 24 hours. Government data recorded 124 blazes, compared to just six on Aug. 10 last year.
Bolsonaro’s office did not respond to a request for comment. In an Aug. 25 message on Twitter, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said Bolsonaro had ordered a “rigorous” probe to “investigate and punish those responsible” for the Novo Progresso fires.
State and federal police have since descended on this rough-edged town of 30,000. Some residents are not pleased with the sudden attention. Most farmers approached by Reuters declined to be interviewed. Many dismissed the Folha do Progresso story as rubbish, the invention of a fabulist.
“For you outsiders, we’re all criminals here,” one rancher said, declining to give his name.
Adecio Piran, the reporter who wrote the article, told Reuters he temporarily went into hiding after receiving death threats. He stands by his story.
According to prosecutors investigating the case, Brazil’s government did not move aggressively to prevent the conflagration, despite forewarning.
Prosecutor Paulo Oliveira said he notified Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, about the Folha do Progresso article on Aug. 7. The agency responded on Aug. 12, two days after the “Day of Fire,” saying it lacked the police support needed to investigate the matter, according to copies of the correspondence between Ibama and Oliveira reviewed by Reuters.
Ibama did not respond to a request for comment.
Army troops were dispatched to the area weeks later. By last Wednesday, there were about 200 soldiers camping on a dusty patch of land used for country fairs on the edge of town.
As Reuters drove the long road into town on Aug. 30, smoke still hung heavy in parts. Charred tree trunks and ash littered the ground where jungle recently stood.
(For satellite imagery of the Novo Progresso fires, see https://tmsnrt.rs/31dSPIO)
Brazil’s Environment Ministry declined to comment for this story. Salles, the minister, has said previously that overly restrictive environmental policies have incited rural dwellers to resort to illegal logging and mining to make a living.
The “Day of Fire” is part of a brutal wave of destruction in Brazil’s rainforest this year. Some 6,404.8 square kilometers (2,472.91 square miles) have been despoiled, double the area felled at this point last year and larger than the U.S. state of Delaware.
Images of the Amazon burning have sparked international condemnation of the environmental policies of Bolsonaro, who has dismissed those concerns as outsiders meddling in Brazil’s internal affairs.
Townspeople in Novo Progresso bristled with resentment at the arrival of federal police and the military. Cattle traders complained it was bad for business.
Madalena Hoffmann, a former mayor of Novo Progresso, said she did not know if the Aug. 10 fires were intentionally coordinated. She said deforestation has gone too far. But like many here, she blames the government for imposing environmental rules so complicated and strict that farmers feel they must break the law to ply their trade.
“Fundamentally it’s the government’s fault,” she said.
Novo Progresso dates to the early 1980s, when Brazil’s military dictatorship lured families here with the promise of land and opportunity.
The armed forces, where former Army captain Bolsonaro got his start, viewed the largely uninhabited Amazon as a vast, resource-rich asset vulnerable to invasion or exploitation by foreigners. The military built roads and encouraged settlement.
But by 1985, the dictatorship had fallen. The newly democratic government began what would become a very different policy towards the Amazon: conservation.
“We were abandoned,” said Moises Berta, a 59-year-old rancher. Sipping coffee under a dawning sky at a bakery popular with farmers, he said he moved to Novo Progresso as a young man in 1981 with hopes of starting a successful farm.
Berta said the government has left him and others in the lurch by failing to grant clear titles to lands they have worked for years. Possessing the title to one’s farm makes it easier to obtain financing and eventually sell it. Without it, ownership is difficult to prove, making illegal activity such as cutting down forest easier to get away with.
In Brazil, land ownership can be granted by demonstrating the property is being used constructively, is not owned by someone else, and is not located in a protected area – standards Berta says his holdings meet.
But 38 years after arriving, Berta still does not have the title for his ranch beside highway BR 163, a vital artery for transporting soy and cattle, despite repeatedly trying to register it with the federal government.
He might not have the rights to his land, but holding up his phone, Berta showed a document pertaining to four open cases against him from Ibama, the environmental watchdog. Asked what laws he had allegedly violated, he grinned. “I have no idea,” he said.
Ibama declined to comment on Berta’s cases, passing a request from Reuters to the Environment Ministry, which did not respond.
The town’s farmers union says 90% of farmers and ranchers here do not have their land formally recognized by the state. Locals say the process is complicated and that officials are unresponsive. Documents need to be presented in person at an office a five-hour drive away.
Incra, the government body responsible for issuing land titles, said in an emailed statement it was aware of the backlog in the Amazon and that “measures were being developed to promote the emission of the required titles.”
Farmers were further incensed by the 2006 creation of a vast reserve to the west of Novo Progresso called the Jamanxim National Forest, which they say has strangled their ability to expand. The federal government was trying to slow deforestation that had cleared much of the forest in neighboring Mato Grosso state and was heading north toward Novo Progresso along BR 163.
Complicating matters, nearly 500 farmers were already inside the reserve when it was created. Most refused to leave, creating a standoff that has yet to be resolved.
Many of the Aug. 10 fires occurred inside the Jamanxim National Forest, the most deforested reserve in Brazil this year, government figures show. Over 100 square kilometers of rainforest there have been cleared since January, an area nearly twice the size of Manhattan.
Agricultural interests support an amnesty that would see farmers inside the Jamanxim stay. They have found allies in the Bolsonaro administration.
On Sunday, at a nearby country fair, Special Secretary for Land Affairs Nabhan Garcia told farmers they would get their titles. The administration, he added, was reviewing the “embarrassment” of conservation areas and indigenous lands expanded under previous governments.
State police have so far interviewed about 20 people in connection with the “Day of Fire,” a person with direct knowledge of the case told Reuters. No one has been charged or arrested. State police did not respond to a request to confirm the information.
Brazil, Bolivia assessing needs after Canada offers $15M aid for Amazon fires
Macron must take back ‘insults’ for Brazil to accept G7 Amazon aid: Bolsonaro
‘ALL YOU CAN SEE IS SMOKE’: Sky never goes dark while Amazon burns
Prosecutors say they suspect organizers used Whatsapp to coordinate fires along BR 163 to show public defiance of environmental regulations. The Jamanxim forest blazes, they say, were likely the work of land grabbers.
“That’s a coordinated invasion to force the area into farmland,” a second law enforcement source told Reuters. The people requested anonymity as they are not authorized to speak to the media.
Piran, the journalist believes he is still in danger. A pamphlet denouncing him as a liar and extortionist who lit the fires himself has circulated around town. While no longer in hiding, he still avoids going out at night. Police have asked state prosecutors that he be enrolled in a witness protection program.

Amazon fires drive spike in child breathing problems in Brazil: Study
October 2, 2019
October 2, 2019 5:44 PM EDT
Guajajara Indians who call themselves "forest guardians" spend time at a makeshift camp on Arariboia indigenous land near the city of Amarante, Maranhao state, Brazil, September 10, 2019. UESLEI MARCELINO / REUTERS
RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA — The surge in fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest this year fueled a spike in young children being treated for breathing problems as smoke clouded the air throughout the region, according to a study released on Wednesday.
Roughly 5,000 children aged nine or younger were treated each month in May and June in 36 areas within Brazil’s so-called “arc of deforestation,” the area partially encircling the Amazon where destruction of the forest is the highest, according to a study by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, a public health research institute.
That is double the monthly average for the past 10 years, with the study linking the rise to the forest fires.
The study only examined cases for May and June, the latest data available, when the number of fires were slightly higher than the previous year.
But that period is well before the surge in August when fires in the Amazon nearly tripled compared to the same period a year ago.
The number of forest fires in the Amazon for the year had surged to their highest point since 2010 by August, drawing global outcry that Brazil was not doing enough to protect the world’s largest tropical rainforest.
Environmentalists and researchers say that farmers and others destroying the forest were purposefully setting the fires.
Brazil’s government sent in the military to fight the fires and launched an investigation into the causes.
Cristovao Barcelos, one of the researchers who wrote the study, said it stands to reason that with the increase of fires starting from July that the number of cases could also show an increase.
Brazilian states ask for military help as Amazon fires rage
HOT AIR! Celebs sowing Amazon disinformation
Amazon countries sign forest pact, promising to coordinate disaster response
“There’s a sequence that starts with deforestation, then comes fires and breathing problems,” Barcelos said.
In areas recording more fires than usual, a child is 36% more likely to develop respiratory problems, the study said. Barcelos added that 2% of the children who sought treatment later died.
Brazil's president accuses Leonardo DiCaprio of paying to burn Amazon
November 29, 2019
November 29, 2019 9:27 PM EST
SAO PAULO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro claimed on Friday that Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio financed fires being set in the Amazon rainforest, without presenting any evidence, the right-wing leader’s latest broadside in casting blame over forest fires that have generated international concern.
Bolsonaro appeared to be commenting on social media postings claiming that the environmental organization the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had paid for images taken by volunteer firefighters that it then used to solicit donations, including a $500,000 contribution from DiCaprio.
The WWF has denied receiving a donation from DiCaprio or obtaining photos from the firefighters.
“This Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right? Giving money to torch the Amazon,” Bolsonaro said during a brief remarks in front of the presidential residence.
DiCaprio denied having donated to the WWF.
In a statement, the actor lauded “the people of Brazil working to save their natural and cultural heritage.” But, he said, “While worthy of support, we did not fund the organizations targeted.”
DiCaprio has been an outspoken advocate on behalf of combating climate change, posting frequently on Twitter about environmental issues, including the Amazon forest fires. His Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which is focused on projects that “protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction,” is part of the Earth Alliance.
Four members of the nongovernmental organization Alter do Chão Fire Brigade were arrested on Tuesday with police accusing them of purposefully setting fires in order to document them and drum up more donations. They were released on Thursday on a judge’s order.
A fire burns a tract of Amazon jungle as it is cleared by a farmer in Machadinho do Oeste, Rondonia state, Brazil September 2, 2019. (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)
Politicians and other NGOs fiercely criticized the arrest, saying it was part of a concerted attempt by Bolsonaro’s government to harass environmental groups.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly lashed out at various factions in casting blame for the forest fires.
In a Facebook live post on Aug. 21, he said, “Everything indicates” that NGOs were going to the Amazon to “set fire” to the forest. When asked then if he had evidence to back up his claims, Bolsonaro said he had “no written plan,” adding “that’s not how it’s done.”
One day later he admitted that farmers could be illegally setting the rainforest ablaze, but roughly a month later he attacked the “lying media” for saying that the rainforest was being devastated by the fires.
The Amazon rainforest is considered a bulwark against global climate change.
Bolsonaro had talked about DiCaprio on Thursday during a live webcast. The president said the WWF paid the firefighting NGO to take pictures of forest fires in the Amazon.
“So what did the NGO do? What is the easiest thing? Set fire to the forest. Take pictures, make a video,” the president said. “(WWF) makes a campaign against Brazil, it contacts Leonardo DiCaprio, he donates $500,000.”
“A part of that went to the people that were setting fires. Leonardo DiCaprio, you are contributing to the fire in the Amazon, that won’t do,” Bolsonaro said.

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