The smoke from a massive forest fire in the Amazon rainforest has covered the skies of Brazil and can even be seen from space.
The fire, which began more than two weeks ago, blackened the skies of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city, for about an hour on Monday, providing an eerie level of darkness. Sao Paulo is located about 2,700 kilometres south of the fires
Wildfires in the Amazon rainforest are rare because of the wet weather, but activity begins in July and August due to the arrival of dry season, which lasts until November. These fires can occur naturally, but humans also illegally set the forest ablaze to make room for farmland.
Last week, NASA released a pair of satellite images of the fires, which show giant plumes of smoke covering the Brazilian state of Amazonas, which has issued a state of emergency due to the rising number of fires.
Several fires are can also be found in the states of Rondonia, Para and Mato Grosso.
Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has detected 72,843 wildfires in the Amazon rainforest so far this year, an 83-per-cent increase over the same time last year.
Concerned social media users have blamed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for the fires in part due to an increase in deforestation since he took office on Jan. 1. Last week, thousands of Indigenous women took to the streets of Brasilia, Brazil’s capital city, to denounce Bolsonaro’s polices on a variety of issues, including deforestation and the president’s desire to open up Indigenous land for mining.
The INPE found Brazilians have destroyed more than 1,500 square kilometres of additional rainforest than it had a year ago. Bolonsaro denied the increases as “lies” that hurt the country’s reputation and later fired the director of the INPE.
In response, Germany and Norway pulled foreign aid to Brazil’s rainforest conservation projects.