Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is fielding some blame as an alarming number of fires burn in the Amazon. Slates reports the country’s space research center has detected 72,843 fires this year:

That amounts to an 83 percent increase over the same period in 2018 and the highest number since the agency started recording fires in 2013, meaning it is likely the highest number of fires to date. 

The Amazon region is home to the world’s largest rainforest and its most diverse ecosystem. The fires, should they continue, could wreak devastating havoc on an area responsible for providing 20% of the world’s oxygen. In the fight against climate change, the loss would be catastrophic.

Dan Rather says, “The Amazon is on fire! The story should top headlines. If we have any hope of averting the worst of the climate crisis we need a healthy Amazon rainforest. But Brazil’s right-wing President Bolsonaro encourages short-sighted agricultural exploitation at the expense of the health of the planet.”

CNN writes:

Brazil’s president recently opened the rainforest to ranching, farming and mining, which has contributed to a wave of deadly fires in the Amazon. Now, indigenous populations and the environment are potentially at risk.

As the fires continue to rage, panic is spreading across social media. Photos of smoke visible from space and a blacked-out sky in São Paulo are being shared and the tags #prayforamazonia and #ArmyHelpThePlanet are trending on Twitter.

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