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The Amazon has seen a record number of fires this year, with the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), detecting 72,843 fires between January and August. This represents an 84 percent increase compared to the same period in 2018.
The rainforest is not only home to around one million indigenous people and three million species of plants and animals, it is also a vital carbon store which slows down the pace of global warming.
Brazil’s prime minister
Many conservations and scientists have blamed Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, who pledged to develop the region for farming and mining when he took office in January, despite the warnings of conservationists around deforestation.
Over the last 10 years, Brazilian governments had slowed the rate of deforestation, implementing a system of fines and action by federal agencies.
But there has been a decline in the number of environmental crime convictions and timber confiscations under Bolsonaro, who has criticized the penalties implemented by former ministers.
‘This is terrible’
Smith took to Instagram to post about the scale of the issue, sharing an image of the Amazon and writing: “The Amazon Rainforest is on fire, this is terrible, it’s one of the biggest carbon sinks in the world, spread the word.”
While Smith has been criticized by some for sharing an image that dates back to 1989, rather than a picture of the current blaze, others have admired his stance in trying to spread the word.
“The photo doesn’t take away from the message the rate of the destruction has increased since the new pm took over and that’s been mentioned in a lot of different sources,” said one of his Instagram followers.