Speed Reads

Amazon inferno

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wildly accuses NGOs of starting fires in the Amazon — and then admits he has no evidence

Large swaths of the Amazon rainforest have been ablaze for more three weeks, with the smoke visible from space and blotting out the sun for an hour on Monday in São Paulo, Brazil.

On Wednesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro lobbed the blame at environmental organizations, saying the fires "may have been initiated" by the groups, in an effort "to bring problems to Brazil," reports The Guardian. He made this statement while speaking to a steel industry congress in the capital of Brasilia. When pressed, Bolsonaro admitted that he had no evidence of his claim and was going off personal feeling.

Fires in the Amazon aren't unheard of, with July and August brings the onset of the dry season, but so far more than 73,000 fires have been reported this year, a record number. It's also an 84 percent increase from 2018 during this time period, according to satellite data from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

Illegal deforestation and diminishing regulations are a major problem in the Amazon, writes The Guardian, not aided by Bolsonaro's infamously pro-industry and anti-conservationist approach. Bolsonaro fired the head of the INPE only weeks ago, after disputing data on deforestation from the agency.

At this time, the primary source of the current fire remains unclear.