The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning And Brazil’s Trump-Like President Denies It Even As Smoke Engulfs Entire Cities

The Amazon rainforest might not be something people think about much unless they live in proximity to it, but it’s basically making it possible for life to continue on this earth. Trees clean the air and these ancient forests have been doing a lot of heavy lifting as deforestation has wrecked the planet. Environmentalists have been warning for ages that the rainforest is becoming endangered, which puts all our lives in peril. And right now, they’re on fire.

This story has not been widely reported, and part of the reason is that this story conflicts with the official stance of the Brazilian government, who say the forest fires are “normal.” Reuter’s reports that right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro recently fired the director of INPE, saying the director of the space agency presented him with made-up statistics that showed an increase in deforestation in Brazil. INPE had detected 72,843 fires this ear so far—a record number.

More people began to take notice when it suddenly got dark as night in São Paulo in the middle of the afternoon:

The overcast sky was the results of fires burning hundreds of miles away, so you can imagine how big they must have been:

You actually don’t have to imagine it, because NASA released images conveying the magnitude of the burn via an image map of the area’s CO levels:

People are horrified by the images coming out of the area, which show blazing land, smoke-filled skies, and injured animals:

Rainwater was collected in the city, and it was black and stank of smoke:

There is some argument over how the fires were started. Bolsonaro insists that the fires are normal calling it the “season of the queimada.” Farmers and ranchers regularly burn parts of the forest to clear land for their industry, but activists say that Bolsonaro’s policies have upped the amount of land cleared astronomically, and these have been starting at somewhat random times rather than a designated season. General climate change has also made the forest susceptible to fires in a way it once was not, because it was once too moist and humid. Now the land is dry.

People are trying to raise awareness of what’s going on with the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia on Twitter:

The Amazon needs more than prayers, it needs action. In the face of a climate-denying president, it’s going to be an uphill battle, the outcome of which might decide the future for the entire planet.