Brazil (MNN) — There’s been plenty of misleading information in headlines lately surrounding fires in Brazil’s portion of the Amazon Rainforest. Environmental advocates slam national leaders for not doing enough to control the burning. Meanwhile, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says advocates exaggerate the cause and extent of Amazon fires.
TransWorld Radio Brazil uses their broadcast to encourage a prayerful response.
Amazon fires: the hype
Amazonas, Brazil’s largest state, declared a state of emergency last month following reports of heightened fire activity. NASA quickly seconded claims made by Brazil’s satellite monitoring system, though later amended the page.
U.S. celebrities quickly took to Twitter as media coverage grew. French President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial Tweet about the Amazon fires triggered an ongoing spat with Bolsonaro. At a G7 climate meeting on August 26, Macron rallied support around a $20 million aid package for countries affected by the fires.
Bolsonaro’s initial rejection of the aid offer raised criticism and concern. Brazilians and outsiders alike claim Bolsonaro should set aside personal slights and accept the aid package. On Friday, leaders from Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname met to coordinate disaster response efforts; Bolsonaro joined the one-day summit by video phone.
What’s the situation on the ground?
TWR’s Ricardo Kroskinsque tells MNN, “We have some local partners in the region that work in Amazonas area. What they’re sharing with us [is] this time in Amazonas [is a] time of fire. So, it’s [a] regular time that we have this situation there. Sometimes they need [to] burn to renew the pastures there; or, the land.”
Reports like this emphasize current Amazon fires as the worst in a decade. While that may be true, BBC News observes fire activity was greater in number and intensity in the mid-2000s. Most fires are currently happening on already-deforested land, the Foundation for Economic Education notes. Furthermore, 80 percent of Brazil’s Amazon territory is protected from deforestation and remains untouched.
Additionally, while Brazil holds 60 percent of the Amazon, deforestation has been steadily declining since the 1980s.
How to help
The Amazon fires have become a political football in Brazil and on the global stage. Kroskinsque says TWR Brazil uses their broadcast to shift the focus to Christ.
“Our answer for this issue is prayer. We use what the Bible says [in] 1 Timothy 2:1-4 to pray for our leaders and presidents. This is what we are doing now.”
Pray TWR can ignite a fire for God’s Word in Brazilian hearts. “Pray for our leaders in Brazil [that God will] give them wisdom to understand what we need and what is best for our Amazon,” Kroskinsque adds.
Header image depicts August fire activity in Brazil’s northern states. Photo courtesy of NASA.