Amazon Continues to Burn in 2020, Even after Promises to Save It
One year ago, Brazilian officials discovered a fire burning in the forest around the town of Novo Progresso. It was the first big blaze in the Amazon's dry season.
In the weeks that followed, more than 100,000 other fires were reported in the area. Those fires fueled anger about the government's inability or unwillingness to protect the Amazon rainforest.
This year, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro promised to control the burning. Usually, local farmers set fires to clear land. Bolsonaro banned fires for four months and deployed army troops to fight or prevent more blazes.
But this week the smoke is so thick around Novo Progresso that police have said people driving motor vehicles have crashed because they cannot see.
Bolsonaro has been an active supporter of bringing more farming to the Amazon. The latest burning season could show if he is willing or able to stop the fires.
Observers say the fires are pushing the world's largest rainforest toward a major crisis. If there are many more fires, the Amazon will no longer be able to produce enough rainfall to sustain itself. That means about 65 percent of the forest will begin turning into tropical savanna or grassland.
But people in Novo Progresso, like businessman Claudio Herculano, believe the town has only grown because of increased farming in the area.
"It pains anyone to breathe this air," Herculano said this week. "But all the people here are looking for better days."
Bolsonaro has sent mixed messages: He approved an army-led operation to fight Amazon destruction in May. Yet this month he denied the trees can catch fire. Recently, at a meeting of South American leaders, he noted a decrease in July deforestation numbers. But he failed to say it was the third highest reading for any month since 2015.
"[The] story that the Amazon is burning is a lie," he claimed.
This year, one could see more fires than last, said Paulo Barreto. He is a deforestation researcher at environmental group Imazon.
In July, as the Amazon's dry season began, many trees had been cut down, increasing deforestation by 34 percent. That information comes from Brazil's space agency.
Normally, after trees are cut, the next step is burning the land, which is usually done without the government's required approval.
August and September are when the burning usually increases. In the first half of August, satellites found 19,000 fires across Brazil's Amazon. If this continues, the number of fires would be similar to those reported last August, when Brazil was criticized internationally.
In 2019, some European heads of state threatened Bolsonaro and said they would suspend financing for rainforest protection efforts. Some European Union lawmakers threatened to refuse to sign the free-trade deal Brazil spent nearly 20 years negotiating.
Bolsonaro sent the Army to help put out the fires – and the criticism -- in late August 2019.
There was also a federal police investigation into what became known as the Day of Fire, when several fires were set. Police are still trying to find out if a group of ranchers used the messaging app WhatsApp to set different fires at different times. The investigation has been extended.
Joaquim da Silva is a rancher in Novo Progresso. He says the problem is that many people do not really own the land they use. That makes it easier for them to avoid punishment.
The Amazon has lost about 17 percent of its original area. If nothing changes, it will reach a crisis in the next 15 to 30 years, says Carlos Nobre, a leading climatologist. As the forest breaks down, it will release hundreds of billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air.
Nobre added signs of change are showing. It is hotter and the dry season is now four months long, not the traditional three months.
I'm Susan Shand.
For once the sequel is as good as the original.
Biological systems have been doing this for billions of years
The plum season is about to begin.
We're still a traditional school in a lot of ways.
5.Bolsonaro sent the Army to help put out the fires – and the criticism -- in late August 2019.
put out 扑灭
He didn't realize that he was injured until the fire had been put out.
The freighter has put out to sea.
6.As the forest breaks down, it will release hundreds of billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air.
break down 分解；发生故障
Their car broke down.
Talks with business leaders broke down last night
一年前，巴西官员发现波罗戈莱索镇附近的森林里有一处着火 。这是亚马逊干旱期第一次发生大火 。
接下来那几周，这个区域又报告了超过10万起火灾 。这些火灾加剧了人们对于政府的无能和不愿意保护亚马逊雨林的愤怒 。
今年，巴西总统雅伊尔·博索纳罗承诺控制住火灾 。一般来说，当地农民点火来开辟农场 。博索纳罗已经禁火四个月了而且部署了军队来灭火和预防火灾 。
博索纳罗一直积极支持开垦亚马逊扩大农场 。最新的火灾季能看出来他是否愿意或者有能力阻止火灾 。
观察人员表示这些火灾把世界上最大的雨林推向重大危机 。如果火灾继续增加，亚马逊就再也不能通过足够的降雨维持自身的生存 。这就意味着65%的森林会开始变成热带稀疏草原或者草地 。
但是波罗戈莱索的人们，像商人克劳迪奥·赫库拉诺 ，认为这个小镇只有通过开辟农场才能扩张 。
“任何人呼吸这样的空气都会痛苦，”赫库拉诺本周说 。“但是这里所有的人还在希冀更美好的明天 。”
博索纳罗释放了很多信息：他五月份批准军队到亚马逊灭火 。然而本月他否认这些树会着火 。最近在和南美领导人的会议中，他提到七月份砍伐森林的数量减少了 。但是他没说这个数字在2015年来的所有月份中排名第三 。
保罗·巴雷拓说今年人们会看到比去年更多的火灾 。他是环保组织爱马逊内滥伐森林问题的研究员 。
七月份亚马逊的干旱季就开始了，许多树木被砍掉，毁林率增加34% 。这一数据来自巴西航天局 。
火灾在八月和九月会有所增加 。八月上半月，卫星发现巴西亚马逊发生19000起火灾 。如果这种情况继续下去，火灾数量会像去年八月报道的一样多，当时巴西在国际上备受谴责 。
2019年一些欧洲国家领导人威胁博索纳罗称他们会暂停为保护雨林提供的资金 。欧盟一些立法者威胁会拒绝签署巴西谈判了将近20年的自由贸易协议 。
联邦警察已经开始调查多起火灾同时发生的“火灾日” 。警察正在尝试找到是否有农场主用短信软件瓦次普联系在不同时间不同区域放火 。调查行动已经展开 。
约金·达席尔瓦是波罗戈莱索镇上的农场主 。他说问题在于很多人不是真正拥有他们耕种的田地 。这样他们就更容易逃避惩罚了 。
亚马逊已经损失了大约原来面积的17% 。首席气候学家卡洛斯·诺布尔说道：“如果不作出改变的话，在未来15到30年它就会陷入危机之中 。”随着森林被毁，它会释放出数十亿吨二氧化碳到空气中 。
诺布尔补充道：需要改变的信号已经发出 。气候变暖，干旱季不是传统的三个月，而变成了四个月 。