Brazil’s unforgiving destruction of the Amazon rainforest nearly doubles its previous peak, hitting an all-time high in April 2022.
Malaysia has for years attracted international scorn for the scale of deforestation that has been allowed within its borders, particularly in Sarawak, but as troubling as that record of environmental destruction is, it still pales in comparison to what’s happening in the Amazon rainforest.
Surging to record levels during the month of April, the ongoing deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon has nearly doubled the area of forest eradication since April 2021. Preliminary government data provided the shocking and extremely troubling data on Friday, May 7, alarming environmental campaigners.
According to data from national space research agency Inpe, the first 29 days of April alone, deforestation in the region totalled up to 1,012.5 sq km (390 sq miles). Compiling monthly DETER-B data series since 2015/2016, Inpe will provide another report for the final day of April this week. April is the third monthly record this year, after new highs were also observed in January and February.
The heartbreaking destruction of the Brazilian Amazon also hit a record of 1,954 sq km (754 sq miles) in the first four months of the year, a 69% increase compared to the same period in 2021. This is equivalent to clearing an area more than double the size of New York City.
Despite international outrage, Brazil’s far right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro argues that this scale deforestation enables more farming and mining in the Amazon, which he claims will help reduce poverty in the region. Bolsonaro himself is responsible for weakening environmental protection over Brazil’s Amazon, despite calls for caution over the global climate crisis.
With the planet’s green lung in danger of disappearing completely, it would not be wrong if people saw Bolsonaro’s actions as attempted manslaughter, seeing how many lives it would affect when people are forced to be climate refugees in the near future.
“The cause of this record has a first and last name: Jair Messias Bolsonaro,” said Marcio Astrini, head of Brazilian advocacy group Climate Observatory, in a statement.
Bolsonaro’s office rebutted the data provided and directed questions to the ministries of environment and justice. The ministries said in a joint statement the government was making major efforts to fight environmental crimes and that police and environmental authorities were cooperating on an operation to combat deforestation in five Amazon states.
However, Climate Observatory said its analysts were astounded by such a high reading in April, even with deforestation efforts having been on the rise. This is especially since the numbers were procured during Brazil’s rainy season when the muddy forest is harder for loggers to access.
Ane Alencar, science director of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), said she had expected deforestation to keep rising ahead of the October presidential election, like it has in Brazil’s past three election years, as officials wary of angering voters generally do less to enforce the law. Still, she called the surge in deforestation last month “absurd.”
“It seems that the clearing of forests has become institutionalized in the country as something common, with record after record,” Alencar said.
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