Satellite data show 6,902 blazes in Angola in past 48 hours. Congo has over 3,000 fires.
In comparison, Brazil is scorched by only 2,000 fires. And we only talk about them!
Sao Paulo turned dark in the middle of the day. WOW! That was extraordinary! But while forest fires are tearing through the Amazon rainforest, prompting worldwide protests and demands for action to protect the “lungs of the world,” the Brazilian fires are dwarfed by blazes in Africa.
As reported by Bloomberg:
Blazes burning in the Amazon have put heat on the environmental policies of President Jair Bolsonaro, but Brazil is actually third in the world in wildfires over the last 48 hours, according to MODIS satellite data analyzed by Weather Source.
Weather Source has recorded 6,902 fires in Angola over the past 48 hours, compared to 3,395 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 2,127 in Brazil. It’s not an uncommon phenomenon for Central Africa.
According to NASA, which operates the Aqua satellite, over 67,000 fires were reported in a one-week period in June last year, as farmers employed slash and burn agriculture to clear land for crops.
Over the last 48 hours, Zambia placed fourth on the list, while Brazil’s neighbor in the Amazon, Bolivia, placed sixth.
So why are the media focussing on Brazil and the Amazon?
Blanket media coverage has been successful in forcing the burning of the Amazon into the public consciousness. Protest campaigns have been guided by pleas from social media influencers, while French President Emmanuel Macron declared “our house is burning,” and promised to put the Brazilian blazes at the top of the agenda as he hosts this weekend’s G7 summit in Biarritz.
While wildfires in Central Africa are a common occurrence this time of year, Bolsonaro insists that the Amazonian inferno is also part of the natural rhythm of life in the rainforest. “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada,” he told reporters, referring to the long-established practice of burning away overgrown farmland before replanting
NASA also reported earlier this week that the number and severity of fires were average for the last 15 years.
Au cœur de ce #G7Biarritz : le climat et la biodiversité. L’océan et la forêt qui brûle en Amazonie nous appellent. Il nous faut leur répondre. Et de manière concrète.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 24, 2019
Sur ces sujets, le temps n’est plus aux paroles, mais aux actes. Voici ceux que je défendrai : pic.twitter.com/0LVNrXKiUP
“Forest fires exist in the whole world,” Bolsonaro said on Friday, after EU leaders threatened economic sanctions on Brazil. Still, the Brazilian leader has evidently deemed the problem serious enough to send in the army, deploying troops to prevent more deliberate blazes and combat further outbreaks.
In Africa, it’s more difficult to know what’s happening, as next to no news reports on the fires in Angola and the DRC have surfaced in the west. No hashtag campaigns or mass demonstrations have broken out, and the issue has not been placed on the G7 leaders’ agenda.
They only want to put pressure on Brazil. They don’t care about Africa.