Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro sends in the military to battle huge blazes sweeping Amazon

Brazil‘s president has authorised the use of the military to battle the huge blazes sweeping parts of the Amazon, who will be deployed to the region today.

Jair Bolsonaro pledged that the military will ‘act strongly’ to control the wildfires, as he signed the decree on Friday evening following a late-night crisis meeting with his cabinet. 

Bolsonaro yesterday indicated he was considering sending in the army, amid international outcry over the disaster.   

Brazilian forces will deploy to border areas, indigenous territories and other affected regions in the Amazon from today to assist in putting out fires for a month, according to the presidential decree authorising use of the army.

The armed forces will work with with public security and environmental protection agencies, the decree says. 

The wildfire that’s left half of Brazil covered in smoke and darkness is believed to be the most intense blaze to grip the jungle in nearly a decade.  

Fire consumes an area near Porto Velho, Brazil, on Friday, August 23. Brazilian state experts have reported a record of nearly 77,000 wildfires across the country so far this year

Fire consumes an area near Porto Velho, Brazil, on Friday, August 23. Brazilian state experts have reported a record of nearly 77,000 wildfires across the country so far this year

Fire consumes an area near Porto Velho, Brazil, on Friday, August 23. Brazilian state experts have reported a record of nearly 77,000 wildfires across the country so far this year 

Nerl Dos Santos Silva, centre, watches an encroaching fire threat after digging trenches to keep the flames from spreading to the farm he works on in Mato Grosso, Brazil, August 23

Nerl Dos Santos Silva, centre, watches an encroaching fire threat after digging trenches to keep the flames from spreading to the farm he works on in Mato Grosso, Brazil, August 23

Nerl Dos Santos Silva, centre, watches an encroaching fire threat after digging trenches to keep the flames from spreading to the farm he works on in Mato Grosso, Brazil, August 23 

A handout photo made available by NASA Earth Observatory of a map showing active fire detection in Brazil as obersved by Terra and Aqua MODIS satellites between 15 and 19 August 2019

A handout photo made available by NASA Earth Observatory of a map showing active fire detection in Brazil as obersved by Terra and Aqua MODIS satellites between 15 and 19 August 2019

A handout photo made available by NASA Earth Observatory of a map showing active fire detection in Brazil as obersved by Terra and Aqua MODIS satellites between 15 and 19 August 2019 

Jair Bolsonaro (pictured) pledged that the military will 'act strongly' to control the wildfires, as he signed the decree on Friday evening following a late-night crisis meeting with his cabinet

Jair Bolsonaro (pictured) pledged that the military will 'act strongly' to control the wildfires, as he signed the decree on Friday evening following a late-night crisis meeting with his cabinet

Jair Bolsonaro (pictured) pledged that the military will ‘act strongly’ to control the wildfires, as he signed the decree on Friday evening following a late-night crisis meeting with his cabinet

‘The protection of the forest is our duty,’ President Bolsonaro said.

‘We are aware of that and will act to combat deforestation and criminal activities that put people at risk in the Amazon.

‘We are a government of zero tolerance for crime, and in the environmental field it will not be different.’ 

As the president spoke, thousands of Brazilians demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital of Brasilia demanding the government announce concrete actions to curb the fires.

People also banged pots from their homes, a traditional mode of protest in South America.

Small numbers of demonstrators gathered outside Brazilian diplomatic missions in Paris, London, Geneva and Bogota, Colombia, to urge Brazil to do more to fight the fires.

Larger protests were held in Uruguay and Argentina. Hundreds also protested in Chile, Ecuador and Peru.

Neighbouring Bolivia and Paraguay have also struggled to contain fires that swept through woods and fields, in many cases set to clear land for farming.

As the president spoke, thousands of Brazilians demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital of Brasilia demanding the government announce concrete actions to curb the fires (Pictured: Protesters hold SOS sign in Sao Paulo on August 23)

As the president spoke, thousands of Brazilians demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital of Brasilia demanding the government announce concrete actions to curb the fires (Pictured: Protesters hold SOS sign in Sao Paulo on August 23)

As the president spoke, thousands of Brazilians demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital of Brasilia demanding the government announce concrete actions to curb the fires (Pictured: Protesters hold SOS sign in Sao Paulo on August 23) 

People also banged pots from their homes, a traditional mode of protest in South America (Pictured: Protesters outside Brazil's Embassy in Santiago on August 23)

People also banged pots from their homes, a traditional mode of protest in South America (Pictured: Protesters outside Brazil's Embassy in Santiago on August 23)

People also banged pots from their homes, a traditional mode of protest in South America (Pictured: Protesters outside Brazil’s Embassy in Santiago on August 23) 

Activists demonstrate during a protest against Bolsonaro over the fires in the Amazon rainforest in front of Brazil's Embassy in Santiago on August 23

Activists demonstrate during a protest against Bolsonaro over the fires in the Amazon rainforest in front of Brazil's Embassy in Santiago on August 23

Activists demonstrate during a protest against Bolsonaro over the fires in the Amazon rainforest in front of Brazil’s Embassy in Santiago on August 23

Demonstrators gather at the Brazilian embassy in London over Brazil's inaction to tackle the wild fires sweeping through the Amazon rainforest

Demonstrators gather at the Brazilian embassy in London over Brazil's inaction to tackle the wild fires sweeping through the Amazon rainforest

Demonstrators gather at the Brazilian embassy in London over Brazil’s inaction to tackle the wild fires sweeping through the Amazon rainforest

Bolsonaro’s new plan of action comes after an ominous warning from scientists who say the Amazon is nearing a ‘tipping point’ in which a third of its ecosystem could be irreversibly decimated.

In July this year, the rate of deforestation of what has been described as ‘the lungs of our planet’ was comparable to the size of Manhattan every day, or Greater London every three weeks. 

Professor Thomas Lovejoy of George Mason University believes there are signs the rain forest is on course for further extensive decimation that could soon be out of human control. 

The professor told The Independent: ‘The reason we believe the tipping point is so close is because we’re seeing historic droughts in 2005, 2010, and 2016. 

‘And satellite images in the north central Amazon also show forests remote from everything are beginning to convert into grassland. That’s yet another symptom.’

Nearly half of Brazil is covered in smoke as the fires spread from the country's east to the Atlantic coast

Nearly half of Brazil is covered in smoke as the fires spread from the country's east to the Atlantic coast

Nearly half of Brazil is covered in smoke as the fires spread from the country’s east to the Atlantic coast

A fire burns on a farm in the Nova Santa Helena municipality in the state of Mato Grosso on Friday, August 23

A fire burns on a farm in the Nova Santa Helena municipality in the state of Mato Grosso on Friday, August 23

A fire burns on a farm in the Nova Santa Helena municipality in the state of Mato Grosso on Friday, August 23

A fire burns on a farm in the Nova Santa Helena municipality in the state of Mato Grosso on Friday, August 23

A fire burns on a farm in the Nova Santa Helena municipality in the state of Mato Grosso on Friday, August 23

A fire burns on a farm in the Nova Santa Helena municipality in the state of Mato Grosso on Friday, August 23

A handout photo made available by NASA Earth Observatory of a natural-colour satellite image showing fires burning in the vicinity of Novo Progresso in the Brazilian state of Para on August 19

A handout photo made available by NASA Earth Observatory of a natural-colour satellite image showing fires burning in the vicinity of Novo Progresso in the Brazilian state of Para on August 19

A handout photo made available by NASA Earth Observatory of a natural-colour satellite image showing fires burning in the vicinity of Novo Progresso in the Brazilian state of Para on August 19 

Several experts believe the raging Amazon inferno was likely started by human beings rather than lightning or some other natural cause.

Christian Poirier, who serves as program director for the conservation non-profit known as Amazon Watch, says cattle ranchers and farmers regularly set fires to rainforest land to clear it for agriculture and grazing. 

An estimated 99 percent of the Amazon’s fires are started by people, ‘either on purpose or by accident,’ according to Alberto Setzer, a senior scientist at Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

Pollution caused by the Amazon rainforest fires at the river in Porto Belho. Several experts believe the raging Amazon inferno was likely started by human beings rather than lightning or some other natural cause

Pollution caused by the Amazon rainforest fires at the river in Porto Belho. Several experts believe the raging Amazon inferno was likely started by human beings rather than lightning or some other natural cause

Pollution caused by the Amazon rainforest fires at the river in Porto Belho. Several experts believe the raging Amazon inferno was likely started by human beings rather than lightning or some other natural cause

Fire consumers an area near Porto Velho, Brazil on Friday, August 23. The degradation of the Amazonian rainforest could have serious consequences for global climate and rainfall

Fire consumers an area near Porto Velho, Brazil on Friday, August 23. The degradation of the Amazonian rainforest could have serious consequences for global climate and rainfall

Fire consumers an area near Porto Velho, Brazil on Friday, August 23. The degradation of the Amazonian rainforest could have serious consequences for global climate and rainfall 

Embers from a wildfire smolder along a highway in the Nova Santa Helena municipality in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil on Friday, August 23

Embers from a wildfire smolder along a highway in the Nova Santa Helena municipality in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil on Friday, August 23

Embers from a wildfire smolder along a highway in the Nova Santa Helena municipality in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil on Friday, August 23 

Rainforest Alliance Chief Programming Officer Nigel Sizer told CNN the man-made deforestation techniques such as this are, ‘responsible for 80 percent to 90 percent of the loss of tropical forests around the world.’

Nearly 73,000 rainforest fires have been reported in Brazil since the start of the year.

The country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has taken heat from critics who say his relaxed environmental controls and emboldening of Amazonian deforestation efforts to stimulate the nation’s economic growth have created the conditions for the current disaster.

Bolsonaro has previously described rainforest protections as an obstacle to economic development, sparring with critics who note that the Amazon produces vast amounts of oxygen and is considered crucial in efforts to contain global warming. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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