Apart from having the second largest number of Covid-19 cases in the entire world, Brazil is also facing ecological issues with the burning of the Amazon rainforest. The nation’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, still underestimates the virus even after being infected with it himself. His complacency and incompetence in dealing with the outbreak have earned him a lot of criticism from his own country and the rest of the world.
With over 2.29 million cases and more than 84,000 deaths, one would think that the Brazilian government would implement more strict guidelines and take better measures to combat the increasing number of infections. But there hasn’t been an improvement in the government’s response. In fact, some cities have resumed their operations and opened their doors to the public with minimal safety measures.
The Brazilian government is also largely responsible for the management of the Amazon rainforest. The massive burning of the Amazon in 2019 shook the entire world and resulted in many theories being concocted about the real cause of the tragedy. Approximately 2.4 million hectares of land were destroyed, consisting of a large portion of the world’s ecosystem and natural habitat of many species. Now, a new catastrophe on top of Covid-19 arises. This year, satellite recordings of the INPE detected new fires about 400 square miles in size last June, in line with a spike in deforestation activities. The usual response of the president was to deploy military forces to deal with it, much like the way he is dealing with the pandemic. Bolsonaro deliberately refused to acknowledge field experts and always turned to military force in any crisis. The illegal logging, land grabs, and mining that the administration allowed resulted in the destruction of the Amazon’s biodiversity.
Reports have said that the fires were not of natural causes. During that time, deforestation was also rampant. The president intended to develop a huge part of the rainforest for economic purposes. This led people to believe that the fires were intentionally started to pave the way for this development.
The local communities that reside in the Amazon are still suffering the negative impacts of both the virus outbreak and the fires but were left to fend for themselves after the president did not approve a bill that proposed for increased protection and support for indigenous communities.
These communities are the forest’s first line of defense, but with the raging pandemic, paired with the lack of medical attention that they are receiving, the indigenous tribes in the Amazon are at the highest risk of not surviving through the virus outbreak.
Now the conservation of the ‘planet’s lungs’ is up to the Brazilian citizens and environmental groups. Farmers are on alert for satellite data on deforestation activities and are actively taking possible actions to repair the damage on the Amazon and attempt to restore what has been lost. With the president’s poor management of the crisis that the nation faces, there are already formal impeachment requests filed against him in Congress.