Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro admitted Thursday that farmers could be illegally setting fires consuming the Amazon but warned world leaders to stop "interfering with our sovereignty." French President Emmanuel Macron, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, and the Bishops Conference for Latin America were among those who expressed concerns about the record fires sweeping the rain forest, which produces about 20 percent of the world's oxygen. "We urge the governments of the Amazon countries, especially Brazil and Bolivia, the United Nations and the international community to take serious measures to save the world's lungs," the Catholic bishops said.
Environmental groups and researchers say the fires destroying the Amazon were almost all set by humans, as cattle ranchers and loggers move to take over the land, and they say Bolsonaro's policies are actively encouraging this deforestation. Amazon deforestation is expected to be a topic at this weekend's G7 summit in France.