Sucumbing to intense international outcry, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has decided to deploy 44,000 troops and air force machinery for defence operations against the wild fire in Amazon forests.
Despite the fire spreading and shaking not only South America but the entire world, Bolsonaro was obstructing relief operations with counter propaganda against the global response. However, he has now conceded to international calls for trade and economic embargo. When the forest fire in the Amazon, often called the 'lungs of the planet' went beyond limits, the right wing leader of Brazil was still showing a propensity to lighten the crisis and put the blame on those who said the situation was grave.
The Brazilian leader was initially trying to wash off his hands saying that wild fire is a usual phenomenon. Then came the charge that the fire was set by voluntary organizations. But at that point, the international community came out with the warning that Amazon belongs to the earth, and it is not a private property of Brazil's President, and leaders of the European Union not only stood by that voice but also raised the threat that member countries would cancel trade agreements and would explore ways to isolate Brazil at the G-7 summit being held in France. That was when Brazil expressed readiness to co-operate with efforts to arrest the fire and put up defences.
The Amazon, the largest tropical rainforest in the world with its hugely rich bio-diversity, straddles nine countries of the South American continent and is spread over an area of 5 million square kilometres. This unique forest of the earth sucks one and a half giga ton of carbon and releases 20 per cent of the planet's oxygen; for this very reason, it is a core factor in controlling global warming and climate of the universe. It is estimated that this region contains a fifth of the pure water of the world. It is one of the most biodeverse repositories of a variety of species including thousands of mammals, reptiles and amphibians, plus thousands of bird species, marine creatures, thousands of plant species and millions of tiny creatures and insects. It is precisely because the so rich resources determine the life-span of our very world that the forest fire of the Amazon hurts humanity.
According to the figures of Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) , 74,155 forest fires were recorded since January this year. Within the last ten days itself, the fires spread over several areas 9,600 times – registering 84 per cent increase over last year. INPE also says that this year's is the wildest fire since 2013. The smoke released into the atmosphere as a result, put Brazil's major city of Sao Polo in the dark during day time. Excessive emissions of carbon di-oxide and unusual rise in carbon monoxide raise alarms on the health of living beings including man.
When summer intensifies, it is normal for forest fires to appear in the Amazon. In addition to this is the cropping of forest by man for agricultural land and cattle-rearing. The government used to control both. But last year, right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro, who ascended to power by whipping up extreme nationalism and racial hysteria, put forward the slogan of 'Brazil first'. He announced developments for the country's 20 million population including those in the Amazon region. And that included a hydro-electric plant, a huge bridge across Amazon river, the high way BR 163 leading to Surinam border – collectively called 'Triple A' as a comprehensive plan. The secret moves for deforestation of the region for the purpose, and if necessary for eviction of native aborigines, leaked even before the start of the plan. It was while country-wide protests were being raised against this that the unprecedented wild fire became public.
The increase in the number of forest fires, according to government statistics itself, brought out its retrograde moves. Even when that triggered protests, the President was intransigent and justifying his actions. When his clandestine plans came to light, and opposition from countries including big powers intensified with threats of snapping of trde ties, Bolsonaro became willing to be part of the drive to extinguish the fires. But the fire of Amazon is not one that will die out with that. For it to happen there needs to be a radical correction in the capitalistic, anti-people development philosophy of the government. Such a people-focused perspective would be the last thing to expect from the new crop of right-wing rulers riding on the crest of crass patriotic frenzy. And that is what fills the mind of the world with fire.