Mon, 16 Sep 2019

Macron Wants Amazon Fires to be #1 Topic at G-7 Summit

Voice of America
23 Aug 2019, 09:35 GMT+10

French President Emmanuel Macron wants the wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest to be the number one topic at the G-7 summit in France.

"Our house is burning. Literally," Macron tweeted Thursday. "The Amazon rainforest, the lungs which produces 20% of our planet's oxygen is on fire. It is an international crisis."

Images from U.S. satellites show smoke blanketing South America from the thousands of fires burning in the Amazon.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is very concerned and the Bishops Conference for Latin America on Thursday says the fires are a "tragedy" and called on the world to take immediate action to protect the Amazon.

Brazil's National Institute for Space Research reported this week it has spotted about 73,000 fires in the Amazon so far this year - an 83% surge over the first eight months of 2018.

Environmentalists put much of the blame on Brazil's ultra-right President Jair Bolsonaro, saying he encourages farmers and others to burn land for development and pasture.

They decry what they say are his anti-environment stance in favor of oil, mineral, logging, and ranching interests. Bolsonaro has called the Amazon an economic resource that should be exploited.

With no evidence to back it up, Bolsonaro has accused non-governmental organizations that have lost funding of deliberately setting the fires to "try to take me down."

He says the government lacks the resources to fight the fires in such a huge area.

Brazilian prosecutors say they will investigate allegations that the government has cut back on monitoring and enforcing environmental laws in the Amazon. They also plan to look into who was behind a newspaper advertisement in Para state encouraging farmers to set fires and burn large areas.

The Amazon rainforest is the world's biggest ecosystem and irreplaceable. Environmentalists call it "the world's lungs because it creates 20% of the globe's oxygen and is able to absorb carbon dioxide, the gas primarily responsible for global warming.

The Amazon is also home to much of Brazil's indigenous population and thousands of species of mammals, birds, and reptiles.

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