Published On: Tue, Aug 27th, 2019

Amazon fires: How did the Amazon fires start, what caused the fires, is it normal? | World | News

Fires are raging through the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, reaching record levels as the number of fires is the highest in any year since 2010 according to NASA. Devastating images show the extent of the blazes, and the spread of smoke, which is impacting Brazil’s neighbouring countries. Despite the numerous fires and pressure from around the world, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has rejected the G7’s offer of aid.

But how did the Amazon fires start?

The numerous wildfires across the Amazon rainforest are being blamed on cattle ranchers and loggers, who want to clear and utilise the land say environmental organisations and researchers.

Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organisation Amazon Watch said: “The vast majority of these fires are human-lit.”

Mr Poirier added that farmers and ranchers have used fire to clear land for a long time, and this is likely the cause of the crisis in the Amazon.

Many are laying blame on President Bolsonaro, who cut the budget for the IBAMA – Brazil’s environmental agency – by 24 percent in April this year.

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These cuts left the IBAMA unable to cover costs and meant the organisation did not have the resources to monitor the rainforest and enforce fines for those illegally starting fires.

A spokesperson for IBAMA said its budget has now been reinstated to what it was before the April cuts.

However, in 2019 so far, the IBAMA has given just one-third of the fines it did over the same period last year, according to Folha de São Paulo, one of Brazil’s largest newspapers.

Alberto Setzer, a senior scientist at INPE said 99 percent of the fires are a result of human actions “either on purpose or by accident”.

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Are the wildfires in the Amazon rainforest normal?

Brazil’s environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, tweeted on Wednesday to say the fires were caused by dry weather, wind, and heat.

However, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said the fires are “definitely human-induced,” and cannot be attributed to natural causes like lightning strikes.

This year’s fires fit into an established seasonal agricultural pattern, Ms Brink said.

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She continued: ”It’s the best time to burn because the vegetation is dry.

“Farmers wait for the dry season and they start burning and clearing the areas so that their cattle can graze.

“And that’s what we’re suspecting is going on down there.”

She added the peak of the dry season is still to come in September.

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