Wildfires rage in the Amazon

12:15 p.m. ET, August 23, 2019

Brazil is considering deploying troops to fight fires

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Credit: EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is considering sending army troops to help combat the fires raging in the Amazon rainforest, he told reporters this morning.

"That’s the tendency, we will figure it out this morning," he said when asked whether he would deploy military troops through an executive action.

Executive action to deploy troops is only available when traditional public safety measures have been depleted, according to guidelines from the Ministry of Defense.

Two states in the Amazon have already declared state of emergency: Acre and Amazonas.

12:57 p.m. ET, August 23, 2019

In July, the Amazon just had clouds. Now it's choked with smoke.

New satellite images of the Amazon from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show how much smoke is in the air above the rainforest.

An image from July 28, 2019 shows just clouds in the skies above the rainforest, while an image from yesterday now shows smoke in the air.

July 28:

NOAA
NOAA

Aug. 22

NOAA
NOAA

12:04 p.m. ET, August 23, 2019

Amazon fires are an "international crisis," British prime minister says

 

 GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images
 GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the fires in the Amazon rainforest are “not only heartbreaking, they are an international crisis."

“We stand ready to provide whatever help we can to bring them under control and help protect one of Earth’s greatest wonders,” Johnson added.

Read his tweet:

11:45 a.m. ET, August 23, 2019

The rainforest is in "great danger," German environment minister says

Omer Messinger/Getty Images
Omer Messinger/Getty Images

German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said Brazil must want assistance in dealing with what she called “shocking” wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest.

“South America and Brazil in particular deserve our support when it comes to preserving the rainforest — both generally and with the blazes we are now witnessing,” Schulze said. “However, Brazil itself must want this assistance, and not counteract it with a national policy of increased clearance."

She echoed an earlier statement by the French President Emmanuel Macron, who said he would oppose a trade deal between Mercosur and the European Union if Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro did not change his environmental policies.

“There is no doubt in my mind that a Mercosur trade agreement cannot be justified without guarantees that the rainforest will be protected,” Schulze said.

The German environment minister went on to say:

"The images of the fires raging in the Amazon region are shocking. The rainforest, a fragile ecosystem that formed over millions of years, is in great danger — from the devastating fires, but also from the forest clearance policy of the Brazilian government. The impacts this will have on the global climate are incalculable.”
11:37 a.m. ET, August 23, 2019

Here's how you can help slow all rainforest loss

The Amazon is burning at a record rate — with images from space showing the smoke covering much of Brazil.

It's not the only major forest under assault. Nearly half of the world's forests that stood when humans started farming are now gone, and each year an additional 32 million acres are destroyed, according to the nonprofit Rainforest Alliance. The biggest reason is expansion of agriculture into forested areas.

In Brazil, its cattle ranching, soy production and logging, according to Nigel Sizer, tropical forest ecologist and chief program officer with the Rainforest Alliance. Environmental groups say these activities can be slowed or done in a much more sustainable way.

Here's what you can do to help slow forest loss:

  • Help reforestation and slow deforestation
  • Make sure products you buy are "rainforest safe"
  • Take steps to live sustainably

10:54 a.m. ET, August 23, 2019

New footage shows what the burn scars look like from above

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration just released new images showing the raging fires and their burn scars from above:

10:23 a.m. ET, August 23, 2019

Here is what you need to know about Mercosur

You are going to hear and read this term a lot today. Let us break it down for you.

What is Mercosur: It is an economic and political bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, plus several associate members. Venezuela's membership in the group was suspended in 2017, in a Mercosur resolution that cited a "rupture of democratic order" in the country.

The recent trade deal: In June, after more than 20 years of negotiations, Mercosur and the European Union reached a comprehensive trade agreement in Brussels. "The new trade framework -- part of a wider Association Agreement between the two regions -- will consolidate a strategic political and economic partnership and create significant opportunities for sustainable growth on both sides," a European Union news release said. The deal aims to remove the majority of tariffs on EU exports to Mercosur, according to the EU statement.

The impact of the deal: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the deal impacts a combined population of more than 780 million people, and would save more than $4.5 billion worth of duties per year. Juncker declared it the largest trade agreement the European Union has ever concluded.

What happens now: As wildfires rage in Brazil, French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday he is opposing a trade deal between the European Union and Mercosur. At the same time, Macron is accusing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro of "lying" to him on his climate commitments, the Elysée Palace confirmed to CNN. Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also said Friday he is ready to block a trade deal between the European Union and Mercosur unless Brazil takes action on the Amazon forest.

9:55 a.m. ET, August 23, 2019

The German government says "frightening" Amazon fires should be discussed at G7

The German government backs France's Emmanuel Macron’s calls to discuss the Amazon forest fires at the G7, calling them "frightening and threatening." 

The extent of the fires has global impacts, Steffen Seibert, a government spokesperson said. The Amazon "is a highly important element in our global system and essential for ecosystem. So it makes sense it call it the green lungs of the world," he said.

The French President has the chancellor “completely on his side” in calling for the fires in the Amazon region to be on the agenda of the G7, according to Seibert.

Earlier today, Brazilian President Bolsonaro criticized Macron’s call to raise the issue at the G7, saying that “the suggestion of the French president that Amazonian issues be discussed in the G7 without countries in the region participating is reminiscent of a colonial mindset inappropriate in the 21st century.”

9:54 a.m. ET, August 23, 2019

Finland calls for EU to "urgently review" imports of Brazilian beef due to Amazon fires

Finland’s Finance Minister Mika Lintila is calling for the European Union to "urgently review the possibility of banning Brazilian beef imports."

Finland’s Prime Minister Antti Rinne also called the situation in the Amazon, “extremely serious,” and suggested the EU will take action soon.

“I contacted the European Commission yesterday evening,” Rinne said in a statement released today. “And I expect that the EU will take action today. The Finnish Government is following the events very closely.”

Finland currently holds the rotating Presidency of the European Council.