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As terrifying blazes erupt across Brazil, the world has flocked to support the people, animals and ecology of the Amazon rainforest, showing their support with the hashtags #PrayforAmazonia and #PrayForTheAmazon. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro earlier accused non-government organisations of deliberately starting the fires in reaction to a loss of funding, despite having no substantiating evidence to support his claims. At a climate change meeting on Wednesday Brazil’s environment minister was heckled over the terrifying wildfires as the flames and public anger regarding the blazes grows.
Satellite date published by Brazil’s space agency, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), showed a surge in the number of Amazon rainforest wildfires this year.
The INPE figure revealed an increase of 84 percent for this year across the country, compared to the same period last year.
In total, the INPE detected 72,843 fires, with more than half of which took place in the Amazon rainforest and more than 9,500 of which happened in the last week.
The research ignited anger at the environment policies of President Jair Bolsonaro after conservationists claim his policies are harming the rainforest.
Brazil’s environment minister, Ricardo Salles, witnessed that anger when he was booed at a climate conference.
As Mr Salles took to the stage at the Latin American and Caribbean Climate Week in the Brazilian city of Salvador on Wednesday, his name only inspired a smattering of applause amid plenty of boos and shouting.
The event, organised by the United Nations, aims to promote climate change action in the region and is attended by representatives from non-governmental organisations, businesses and educational organisations, among others.
Some of those at Wednesday’s meeting shouted “the Amazon region is burning”, as Mr Salles stepped on to the podium.
Scientists said the Amazon has suffered losses at an accelerated rate since the president took office in January.
In response to these claims, the Brazilian President blamed non-governmental organisations suggesting they may be setting fires in the Amazon to embarrass the Brazilian government after it cut their funding – despite offering no evidence to support the claim.
Environmental activists vehemently denied these claims.
Greenpeace Brazil’s Danicley Aguiar said: “Those who destroy the Amazon and let deforestation continue unabated are encouraged by the Bolsonaro government’s actions and policies.
“Since taking office, the current government has been systematically dismantling Brazil’s environmental policy.”
The policies the scientists have been referring to as those which have encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land for development, therefore speeding up the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
According to local newspapers, farmers in some regions even organise “fire days” to take advantage of weaker law enforcement.
Wildfires are common during the dry season in Brazil with high heats and droughts prevalent, but the wildfires are also started deliberately in a bid to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching.
Inpe researcher Alberto Setzer told Reuters: “The dry season creates favourable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.”
Over the past decade, previous Brazilian governments have reduced deforestation action using federal agencies and a system of fines.
However, Mr Bolsonaro’s government have widely criticised the penalties and overseen a drop in the number of confiscations of timber and convictions for environmental crimes.
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