The Amazon Rainforest is on Fire For Weeks and Hardly Anyone’s Talking About It

The hashtag #PrayForAmazonia went viral on Tuesday as social media users tried to draw the world’s attention to the Amazon rainforest, which has been devastated for weeks by fires so powerful they can be observed from space. According to Euro News, it is uncertain if the fires were produced by agricultural activity or deforestation. Both have accelerated fast under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who made opening the Amazon to corporate misuse a key plank of his election movement.

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Twitter users on Tuesday condemned the media for paying too little attention to the Amazon fires, mainly given the vital role the rainforest plays in absorbing planet-warming carbon dioxide—a capability that earned it the nickname “lungs of the world.”

“The Amazon has been burning for three weeks, and I’m just now finding out because of the lack of media coverage,” wrote one observer. “This is one of the most important ecosystems on Earth.”

Satellite data gathered by the Brazilian government’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) issued in June revealed that deforestation has increased radically under Bolsonaro, who sacked the research as “a lie” and fired INPE director Ricardo Galvão for defending the data. As The Guardian stated, the INPE results revealed the Amazon “lost 739sq km during the 31 days [of May], equivalent to two football pitches every minute.”

The fires have become so strong that smoke from the blaze darkened the afternoon sky on Monday in São Paulo, Brazil’s most populated city.

“The Amazon rainforest has been on fire for weeks, and it’s so bad it’s literally blotting out the sun miles away,” tweeted Robert Maguire, research director at U.S. government watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington.

The support group Amazon Watch on Tuesday called the Bolsonaro regime’s attacks on the world’s biggest rainforest “an international tragedy.”

“What can we do?” the group tweeted. “1. Support the courageous resistance of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. 2. Make clear to the agribusiness and financiers involved in the destruction that we won’t buy their products.”