Opinion: Fighting fire with… nothing? 

Freshly cut jungle begins to burn at the Nova Fronteira region in Novo Progresso, Brazil, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019.  Photo from the Associated Press.

Freshly cut jungle begins to burn at the Nova Fronteira region in Novo Progresso, Brazil, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. Photo from the Associated Press.

As most people know, fires are raging on in the Amazon, with little to no end in sight. This is a major environmental crisis and must be addressed immediately. However, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro does not seem to recognize the nature of this pressing problem.  

It is no secret that Bolsonaro is against strengthening environmental policy; in the past, Bolsonaro has condemned agencies that enforce environmental laws and is currently against fining people for committing environmental crimes. Bolsonaro has been rather dismissive of environmental policy in the past, and he does not seem to want to do whatever necessary to stop the fires. He has also defunded environmental protection agencies

Bolsonaro does not seem to comprehend the fact that the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed, and this is extremely detrimental to the environment because of the number of trees being torched, as well as the wildlife. It also makes a statement about climate change as a whole: The Amazon was only able to catch fire because the trees’ canopy has become so dry due to rising temperatures. However, not everyone realizes this. 

It is ridiculous that the fires have been going on for so long yet Bolsonaro refuses to do everything that he possibly can to put them out. 

Recently, the G-7 nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. — pledged over $22 million in order to help put out the fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest. Bolsonaro declined, due to his current quarrel with French president Emmanuel Macron. 

Refusing tens of millions of dollars in order to aid in ending an environmental crisis just because Bolsonaro feels threatened by another leader’s power is irresponsible and, frankly, childish. Instead of helping his country and the world by putting out the fires spreading across the Amazon, Bolsonaro is refusing money due to his arrogance. 

Macron has blamed Bolsonaro for the worsening of the fires, saying that Bolsonaro lied about his efforts. Angered by this, Bolsonaro has refused to accept the funds until Macron apologizes. 

Macron has a very good point — Bolsonaro has not done nearly enough to combat the fires in the Amazon, and he is putting his country and the world at risk by letting his pride get in the way. 

President Donald Trump has his own opinion on the issue. Trump has shown his support for Bolsonaro. 

“[Bolsonaro] is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil — Not easy,” Trump tweeted on Aug. 27. 

For a climate change skeptic like Trump, this really shouldn’t be surprising. Trump has demonstrated time and again that he has no idea what climate change is and has no understanding of its consequences either.  

However, other people — world leaders and civilians — actually recognize the magnitude of the problem. In addition to the offer from the G-7 nations, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered to send the affected nations 10 million pounds, which is about $12.2 million. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered to send 15 million Canadian dollars, which is about $11.2 million, as well as water bomber planes to help put out the fires.  Others, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio, have also raised money to help put out the fires. 

Bolsonaro needs to swallow his pride and accept any and all of the resources that the Amazon needs in order to combat the raging fires. Otherwise, his country and his people will suffer the consequences. 

At the United Nations General Assembly meeting on Sept. 24, the member nations will discuss the crisis occurring in the Amazon rainforest. Hopefully there will be a clear resolution and the fires will cease. 


Anika Veeraraghav is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at anika.veeraraghav@uconn.edu.