The wave of fires that have affected Amazon rainforest in the interior of Brazil is already being felt in the sky of São Paulo. In the middle of the afternoon, the capital of Brazil darkened from the wind-borne smoke that has been emitted from the interior of the country, says Marcelo Pinheiro, from Clima Tempo.
The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) admits that the giant smoke cloud has advanced towards south-central Brazil and reached São Paulo, but has not assured the public that this is the main cause for the darkness that is felt as early as 3 pm, claiming it is partially due to bad weather, although several experts warned of this phenomenon a few days ago.
MetSul, a southern Brazilian meteorological company, published on Saturday a photograph on its Twitter of the orange moon, seen from Livramento, on the Uruguayan border, justifying the orange tint given off as an optical effect generated by the particles in the atmosphere from the fires in the north of the country.
The number of fires in Brazil has grown by 70% this year compared to the same period last year, with the country having recorded 66,900 outbreaks so far, with the Amazon being the most affected region, according to the Brazilian press, which cites data from INPE's "Burn Program".
51.9% of Brazilian fires occur in this region.
In early August, the local Government in charge of the Amazon decreed an emergency in the south of the state and in the Manaus Metropolitan Region due to the "negative impact of illegal deforestation and unauthorized burning". "From January to July this year, the Amazon recorded 1,699 hot spots (satellite-recorded hot spots above 47 ° C, which indicate the possibility of fire). Of these, 80% were recorded in July, the month that the drought period began, ", stated the Amazon state on its website.
The number of fire outbreaks in the country is already the highest in the last seven years.
The INPE (National Institute for Space Research) is the Brazilian government body that collects data on deforestation and fires throughout the country.
The institute has been the target of recent criticism by the Brazilian President, who accused them of being at the service of some non-governmental organizations for disclosing data pointing to increased deforestation of the Amazon. Jair Bolsonaro expressed irony, stating that he went from "deforestation chainsaw captain" to "Nero", alluding to the Roman emperor that history accuses of burning Rome so that he could bypass the senate and rebuild the city to his liking.
"Now I'm being accused of setting fire to the Amazon. Nero! I’m Nero setting fire to the Amazon," he jested.
Recent INPE disclosures indicate that Amazon deforestation grew 88% in June and 278% in July, compared with the same period last year. However, the Brazilian Government denies this data. Bolsonaro’s government has been a target of much criticism over the last few days due to the perceived inaction in responding to this devastating state of affairs.
The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world and has the largest recorded of any area of the planet. It is about five and a half million square kilometres and includes territories from Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana (territory belonging to France).