Brazilian warplanes took to the sky, joining those from Belize and other countries, in an attempt to quell the fires ravaging the Amazon Rainforest. The planes dumped water on the burning forest in the state of Rondonia, responding to a growing chorus of international voices calling on the Brazilian government to do something about the fire.
According to Reuters, as of Sunday Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had authorized military operations in seven states, a response to both international pressure and calls for assistance from local governments. A Reuters team described the scene as firefighters working with the environmental enforcement agency Ibama worked to fight the fires. Dousing fires with pressurized packs connected to water tanks on their backs, before covering the doused fire in soil. Likewise, the Defense Ministry posted a video of military planes pumping millions of liters of water out of passing jets.
World leaders at G7 have been critical of Brazil for a tepid response to the fires, which many have reported are intentionally set by Brazilian ranchers and agricultural interests who want the forests cleared for their own use. Amid the criticism, Jair Bolosonaro tweeted the following.
While there is some truth to the tweet in so far as the Brazilian military has stepped up their response, it drew even more criticism as people pointed out the picture is actually almost 5 years old.
At the very least this signals that Brazilian leadership is at least trying to save face, and again warplanes recently took the sky’s for the first time, largely in response to rising pressure both international and domestic. Bolsonaro also took to twitter to accept aid from countries like Israel, who offered a firefighting plane and specialized support on the ground.
Outside these actions though, it’s unclear how rapid the response will be. The Brazilian government stated 44,000 troops were available in Brazil’s Northern regions to help fight the fires but provided no more detail on how they would be utilized. The Defense Ministry told Reuters seven states had asked for help and the military is planning to support the firefighters already at work.
Neighboring countries are already hard at work attempting to percent future fires. Belize’s Evo Morales sent specialized planes of their own. And Columbian leadership has attempted to broker a conservation pact between all countries with Amazon territory.
The Amazon provides over 20% of the Earth’s oxygen, houses over three million species of plants and animals, and millions of indigenous people hailing from over 500 tribes. So all efforts to preserve the forest are incredibly important and have a significant impact far outside Brazilian territory.