Selective and Misplaced Outrage at Brazil’s President Bolsonaro over Amazonian Fires

Reposted from Dr Roy Spencer’s Blog

August 28th, 2019 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

No, I’m not in favor of burning down all of the rainforest in Brazil (or neighboring countries, which are being given a pass for some reason). But the recent outrage over increased fire activity this year in Brazil during the annual burn season seems pretty manufactured to me. And it’s largely political, placing blame at the feet of Brazil’s President Bolsonaro, who took office at the beginning of 2019.

The widespread reporting on this makes it sound like fires in Amazonia this time of year are a new thing. With 50 million Brazilians living below the poverty line, many take up farming which involves clearing land to grow grass to feed cattle, pigs, chickens, etc. They make about US$5.50 a day.

Here’s just one of hundreds of headlines making the rounds lately: The Amazon rainforest is on fire. Climate scientists fear a tipping point is near.

This then gets everyone whipped into a frenzy. For example, here’s what noted environmental expert and Toto guitarist Steve Lukather tweeted:

We must stop EVERYTHING and deal with this NOW!

So, just how bad is it this year compared to previous years for rainforest destruction in Brazil? Well, here’s the official data:


Graphic from Brazil farmers deforesting Amazon ‘to survive’

Now, tell me exactly what about that graph suggests that things have suddenly gotten worse in terms of rainforest destruction?

If you say, “Well, that’s only through July of this year. Maybe August is much worse!”, then I will point out that the original news article from The Guardian about the “88% rise” in rainforest destruction “under Bolsonaro” was way back on July 3!!

In that article they were comparing June of 2019 to June of 2018, which sounds like cherry-picking to me, when a much more extensive and complete history in the above graph suggests 2019 will not be exceptional for rainforest destruction compared to previous years.

This year’s dry season (June-August) has indeed been exceptionally dry, though. Brazil’s rainfall is tied to sea surface temperature patterns in both the Pacific and Atlantic, especially related to El Nino and La Nina activity. NASA satellite data show that the fires there, mainly set for agricultural purposes, are burning exceptionally hot, probably due to a lack of moisture in the fuel. Anyone who has a wood burning fireplace, or has tried making a campfire with wood that is not thoroughly dry, is familiar with this effect. The fires are burning hotter and “cleaner” than usual. If you look at NASA’s daily satellite imagery of smoke you will see that many previous years were smokier in Amazonia than this year is.

This is just one more example of the media controlling the narrative and selectively and hypocritically placing blame on a particular (and almost always right-leaning) political party.

To be clear: I’m not supporting President Bolsonaro’s policies. I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of the media in its environmental reporting.

79 thoughts on “Selective and Misplaced Outrage at Brazil’s President Bolsonaro over Amazonian Fires

  1. Sorry, I have seen the entire “burning down the Brazilian rainforest” as the hoax it has been since the 1980s. Yes, large landholders used to burn off forest tracts, that has been shrunk over the last 3 decades. All the fires currently burning are of ALREADY EXISTING farm land. The actual incidents of “forest” being burned are to the west and north. They are burns done by subsistence farmers, just as they have done for millennia in the Americas, and Asia, and Africa. Same as was done in Europe and Near East till different methods of land husbandry took hold.

    Leftists love to set other people’s stuff on fire, that is exactly the shit that is happening right now, and media over hyping this shit is all part of the leftist dogma. Lie. Lie Big. Lie Continuously.

    • 2hotel9, I’m far from being in the alarmist side. However, this kind of speech that you use is also dangerous, mainly if it is completely non based in data, as it is the case. Anyone can use Google Earth Engine and see the evolution of Rain Forest reduction in Brasil. One example in the state of Rondonia is even a highlight on the site.

      • Yes, crop lands are what is burning, as is shown by live, real time imagery. googly is just as much an enemy as Iran, China and islam. Stop believing the lies people who hate you screech endlessly. Reality is out here, all you have to do is accept it.

        • How many of you know that ……

          Brazil is expected to account for over 60% of the region’s methanol demand in the coming decade.

          Brazil consistently exports more methanol than any other country in the world. Methanol has many advantages that make it a desirable fuel alternative.

          And how many of you know that …… their methanol is derived from sugar cane?
          And that sugar cane is grown on a zillion acres of farmland.
          And when its time to harvest the sugar cane, the field are set on fire to burn the leaves off.
          And that it is sugar cane “harvesting” time in Brazil.

          So, yes, ….. sugar cane crop lands are what is burning

          • And other crop lands, not just cane fields. Crop lands which are allowed to grow over with non crop growth, then it is burned off. Ya know? Fallow? Crops can be grown year round, depending on what you are growing and the pattern you grow them in. And yes, it helps to allow large sections to grow over and be burned off. Look at the rice growing region, blocking them from flooding, allowing non crop growth and then burning it off is beneficial to the next crop.

      • Yes, there are fires in the Amazon, just as there are this time every year.
        The reality is that the amount of the Amazon that burns is way, way down from recent decades. This year is even less than the last couple.
        As 2hotel9 has pointed out, the vast majority of the land that is burning is land that is already cropland. Additionally, most of this cropland has been cropland for a number of years.

        There is nothing to panic over, despite the number of paid shills who screech to the contrary.

        • When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout. This has been the primary modus operandi of the political left for decades. They are simply too stupid to do anything else.

          • The term “oxygen production” is quite misleading, as the decomposition of organic plant and animal matter in rain forests actually consumes about the same amount of oxygen as the forests produce. For this reason, the term “oxygen turnover” is preferred by many scientists.

            The largest source of the world’s oxygen is tiny microorganisms located in the oceans, which are estimated to contribute as much as 80 percent of the total oxygen produced each year.

          • Touché !
            You said it all !
            The left wants Bolsonaro out because he & his new government want an honest non corrupt society and the left has had it easy in a country where corruption is institutionalized !
            Forget fires , the military will take care of it , help Bolsonaro change Brasil for better place for Brasilians to live !
            It is one of the richest country in the world & been wasted ! The Amazon is fine !

      • So, it’s not a progressive process, not catastrophic. It’s evolutionary, with conservation policies.

    • Maybe we should sell leftists on the idea of going to Brazil and protesting the fires at the locations where they burn?
      Sell them an idea that one-on-one protests with the land owners will find willing audiences.

      They ought to love the rural land owners. For a minute or two.

      • Seize their passports and put them to work. 5 years should about wake them up. Or not, leftards being fairly dense as well as stupid.

        • I was beginning to think you were a reasonable person until that “leftard” part. Name calling makes you sound like you can’t win with a logical argument.
          The far left will always be far left just as the far right will always be far right; the goal should be to sway the left-center and right-center toward your side as that is where the battle will be won or lost.
          Remember that the global warming crowd are trying to sell voluntary poverty to the masses and most people are not enthusiastic about being poor.

          • The vast majority of those labeled “far right” are actually far left. It’s just that leftards define right as bad, so anyone they dislike is immediately assigned to the right.

          • So, pointing out you believe in socialism is “name calling”? Yep, socialists lie, just like muslims.

          • No, sweety, I believe in exterminating socialism, mass extermination. That is the only way the Human Race will take the next evolutionary step forward. A$$wipes like you are why the Human Race has to exterminate socialism, you are an enemy of the Human Race. F**k you.

      • People who hate you are lying to you, you choose to believe the lies. Good luck with that. I am out here in reality, you ought to joins us all here, the world is a great place.

  2. Tell the people who are whinging to quit centering the world around themselves, check their colonialism, and reforest their own countries’ agricultural lands. Poor Brazilians are trying to survive while these whingers wallow in their privilege.

    • Hear, hear! Long past time to force these scumbags to live the life they claim to want. Call it a concentration camp, gulag, internment settlement or refugee center, it is time they were forced to live in the mud without electricity, water, heat or modern medical technology. Nice big brand on the face, that way they will be dragged back and thrown into their self chosen sh*thole if they try to escape.

    • Right on Icisil!
      And, moreover: Two thousand years ago, Europe was covered by a dense forest. It was removed and that cleared the path for the western culture to prosper. In fact most of the western prosperity is thanks to this kind of opportunism.
      Now they try to prohibit Brasil to do the same and develop itself into a prosperous society.
      Imagine Germany being covered tomorrow by a jungle, blocking the autobahn and isolating cities. That jungle would be removed in less than two days. For sure!

      • Tom,
        Deforestation is not going to provide widespread prosperity to Brazilians
        or anyone anywhere today. We no longer have a economy where wealth is
        generated from farming to one where most of the jobs are in cities and in manufacturing. Deforestation will make a small number of wealth farmers
        rich along with some multi-nationals but it will do very little for the majority of Brazilians who are currently living in poverty.

        • Izaak,
          I’m talking long-term. If Europe would not have taken down the forest, civilization would not have developed as it has… over the following 2000 years.
          Maybe the average Brazilian doesn’t have any advantage right now, but the possibilities for future development are much larger.
          Anyway… it’s *their* jungle and *they* have the right to decide. “Europe” decided long time ago to deforest and now reaps the results. Now it’s Brazil’s turn. In fact, they’ve decided to declare 50% of the jungle as National Park… untouchable. That’s a lot more than Europe did when they took down their forest.

          • Tom,
            surely the possibilities for future developments are much larger if they
            don’t destroy their resources now and save them for when they might need

          • They’re not destroying their resources; they’re harvesting them to enrich their lives, just like your ancestors did to give you the privileges you now have. Your attitude is just a subtle form of racism and colonialism.

        • Farming allows those poor Brazilians to survive, and the resources benefit Brazil as a whole. You speak from privilege they don’t have.

  3. An excellent article by Dr. Spencer- of course the reason it uses, as usual, will be shouted out by the hypocrites and uninformed through MSM. Correction printed on back of page 14 in subscript.

    • Spencer’s reason?

      “I’m not in favor of burning down all of the rainforest… But…”

      Ah, the old but, but, billygoat but.

      “This year’s dry season (June-August) has indeed been exceptionally dry, though. Brazil’s rainfall is tied to sea surface temperature patterns in both the Pacific and Atlantic, especially related to El Nino and La Nina activity.”

      Its also tied to the remaining area of forest.

      “indicate a tipping point for the Amazon system to flip to non-forest ecosystems in eastern, southern and central Amazonia at 20-25% deforestation.”

      Currently at 17%.

      Instead lets apologize for Bolsanaro and accuse the media. But nicely played Roy.

      • 25% of the rainforest fires are in Bolivia, but that country is run by a socialist, so let’s no one mention/hound Bolivia.

      • “Ah, the old but, but, billygoat but.”

        Typical Loydo, takes any attempt to be reasonable as evidence of hypocrisy and an attempt to delude.

        “Its also tied to the remaining area of forest.”

        So the less rainforest there is, the more it burns? I love the way trolls try to change the subject whenever they find themselves losing.

        “Currently at 17%.”

        First off, Loydo as always takes outputs of unproven models as if they were scientific gospel.
        Then he takes propaganda as if it were unvarnished truth.
        Finally he like most of the other unthinking wonders of the left assumes that once a pience of the Amazon has burned, it is destroyed forever.

        Finally he re-iterates the disprove claims as if his unfounded criticisms have proven his point.

        Bolsanaro has nothing to do with this. The left didn’t say anything in recent years when the number of fires was even larger but a left winger was in charge.

  4. President Bolsonaro ought to be carrying a copy of that chart around in his pocket and showing it to his critics. As far as I can tell he hasn’t mounted much of a defense although all the facts are on his side.

    • No he ought to just point at the statement
      then point out $30M is the best all the lefties could offer to solve it.

  5. I recall reading that today’s UK was once covered with forest. ‘Look at it now.

    That would apply to the whole world, its all being changed.

    Also is the Amazon forests so essential to the production of Oxygen, I
    thought that changing the crops such as to grass, the same photo synthesis
    process would occur. I thought that the vast Oceans produced most of the
    production of Oxygen, a unwanted by product of the photo synthetic process

    Their President is right wing and a sceptic about CC, so of course the left
    wing Media and their supporters don’t like him. As usual its not about Saving the
    Planet, but the usual left wing politics. .


    • Climb into a car in NYC and hop on I 80, drive west, then tell me how we are “deforesting” the world. Go north on I 95, trees trees everywhere. Fly to Atlanta, get on I 20 west, try to find the massive “deforestation” leftists constantly screech about. Hell, fly into Ft Smith AK and drive west, feel free to call me when you run out of trees, you’ll be in western Colorado or New Mexico when you do.

      So f**king tired of this unending caterwauling about killing all the trees that spews out of leftards.

    • Amazon as a whole is about 6% of Earth Oxygen production, Brazil is 2.74% of Earth population.
      Based on those numbers it is an Oxygen over producer and can cut down half the forrest 🙂

    • The deforestation of Britain was a major factor in establishing the American colonies – and in turning the country into an industrial powerhouse.

      As massive sources of timber disappeared, the Navy had to turn to the untouched forests of America to produce the pitch, tar, turpentine, etc. (mostly from the north) and tough framing timbers (from the Southern Live Oak).

      The lack of charcoal forced the exploitation of the island’s abundant coal, largely neglected until then – coal which, when the equipment and processes for its use were properly developed, made them the largest producers of high quality steel in the world for quite a few years.

      Huge fleets of wooden ships, and charcoal for smelting, are no longer needed – modern industry is. Which is what Bolsonaro is trying to get going again in Brazil, after a long period of socialist destruction. But, in the meantime, his people have to eat, and get some foreign currency in with exports of whatever is surplus.

      • Huge fleets of wooden ships might not be needed anymore, but European greenies love them some huge piles of wood pellets to burn as ‘renewable biomass’ in their power plants. Maybe the Brazilians want to pivot to biomass as well?

  6. Brazilians elected Bolsonaro to get rid of corruption. If he doesn’t succeed, I fear what will happen next.

    Similarly, in the USofA, the voters dealt a mild rebuke to the Democrats by electing President Trump. If he can’t get the job done, and the Democrats don’t learn their lesson, what follows could be much worse.

    The election of a populist is a safety valve in a democracy. It gives the powers a warning that they need to fix the boiler. If they ignore the warning then, duck and cover folks.

    • Well Bolsonaro appears to be ignoring the warnings about the need of getting rid of
      corruption. He appointed Ricardo Salles as his environment minister, who had
      previously been found guilty of misconduct by altering a map to benefit mining companies. He was fined and deprived of his right to vote for 8 years but was appointed minister 3 weeks later.

      Trump appears to have a similarly lax view of people’s previous convictions. His new press secretary for example has been arrested twice for driving under the influence and also lost another job due to plagiarism.

      • “His new press secretary for example has been arrested twice for driving under the influence”

        Oh my G-d, how can Trump even want to speak to such an abominable being, to a lowly scoundrel like that?

        • “Oh my G-d, how can Trump even want to speak to such an abominable being, to a lowly scoundrel like that?”
          He has to speak to him… all his other appointees are wither in prison …. or heading there. I mean seriously, how long is the list of Trump buddies who are criminals?

          • As long as the FoB (Clinton) list, or any of the other “buddies” who some how have lifted a “community organizer” to a position where he is able to hypocritically toss $14 M on beach front property he previously said was disappearing.

            Look very closely and remember that it is all a house of mirrors. You are the first victim when you fool yourself.

    • Besides all that was said here there are huge interests behind Europeans: 1) 273.000 Non Government Organizations from abroad operating in Amazon, to protect the “environment”, it means biggest mines of diamond and 98% of Niobio of the world (Europeans runs one of diamond). 2) The G20 agreement with Mercosul, with enraged the Europeans farmers. 3) The Trump new battle with China, with favors Brazil exportation.
      And more.

  7. I remember flying into Sao Paulo a couple of times and between the airport and the city, the highway passed by a garbage dump where children were sorting and scavenging through heaps of rubbish. This was over a decade ago and I hope that the situation has improved, but it seems that reducing poverty should of concern to all guitarists.

  8. “In that article they were comparing June of 2019 to June of 2018, which sounds like cherry-picking to me”
    No, it is comparing like with like, which the graph in this article does not do. June is the start of the dry season, which goes through until at least late October, and even November. With the lop-sided seasonality is impossible to make a fair comparison between Jan-July of 2019 with the whole of other years.

    “The fires are burning hotter and “cleaner” than usual.”
    That seems to support the reporting.

  9. I lived in Venezuela for many years; and observed that just before the rainy season began, subsistence farmers would go out to their patch of land and burn off the vegetation and overgrowth. When the rains came, the fires would be extinguished whereby the planting would begin. Usually Corn, yucca, peppers and plantains. This would happen every year. At the end of the dry season smoke and fire were everywhere in very rural areas. Many indigenous tribes practice this same sort of farming. The Pemon and Maquiritare tribes in southern Venezuela along the Brazilian and Guyana frontiers would sit and watch the fires the same as we would watch a 4th of July fireworks display here in the states. This is a practice that has gone on for thousands of years.

    The fake outrage is a testament to either ignorance or hypocrisy.

    • It is political partisanship, as stated.
      We see time and again where issues that were the subject of mass protest suddenly are no big deal to the former protestors, when someone who is a member of their thought tribe gets elected.
      And issues that were for years ignored are suddenly on the front burner and being exaggerated wildly when the opposite happens in an election.

  10. June is their spring…farmers used to burn as much of the state of Florida as they could every spring for the same reasons…if you don’t burn it…it’s dry dead grass nothing can eat
    …when you burn it off…it comes back fresh green and healthy

  11. AOC is apparently so upset that she has pledged to have “one less child” than she originally planned. Assuming she is intelligent enough to know how to use birth control (a big leap of faith there, I know), I think it would be worth actually burning as much of the Amazon as the left claims is being burned if it we could get her down to zero children. Sucks for Brazil, no doubt, but the net gain to humanity would be enormous.

    In the meantime, I had always assumed cavemen “invented” fire. But according to the new textbooks in California, it was actually invented by conservative populist national leaders in the 21st Century.

  12. Remember this? The Willing have simply expanded the campaign to more than a week, that’s all. This event was an obvious one that could be used to ‘stoke(s) the fire’ so it was grabbed for the narrative. It would be so transparent but for the smoke.

    ““Our ask of you is simple: commit to a week of focused climate coverage this September. We are organizing news outlets across the US and abroad—online and print, TV and audio, large and small—to run seven days of climate stories from September 16 through the climate summit UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres hosts in New York September 23. The stories you run are up to you, though we can offer ideas and background information and connect outlets looking for content with content providers looking for outlets.

    We’d be happy to schedule a phone call to discuss this further.


    Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope”

  13. It’s called regrowth control.and is practiced everywhere tropical pastures exist,with the exception of Australia where its illegal.Landowners get around it by waiting for an accidental bushfire in their area then let her rip. If they don’t do this,there pastures will quickly disappear under regrowth.

  14. “GOP Lobbyists Help Brazil Recruit U.S. Companies to Exploit the Amazon”

    “This summer, fires are being used to clear wide swaths of the Amazon at an unprecedented rate. One-fifth of the Amazon has already been destroyed in the past 50 years; further industrialization of the rainforest risks destroying another fifth, a loss that would be catastrophic for the global ecosystem.

    The disaster is widely blamed on interests seeking to clear the world’s largest rainforest for cattle ranching, mining, and export-focused agribusiness. Documents reveal that those interests are being pushed in the U.S. by Republican lobbyists, friendly with President Donald Trump’s administration, who entered into talks with the Brazilian government to promote corporate investment in the Amazon.”

    • The horrors of it. The resources of the Amazon are being used to improve the lives of the people who live there.
      Leftists around the world react in horror.

      Like most trolls, Loydo assumes that once a portion of the Amazon is burned, it is destroyed forever. Plants never grow back.

      PS: I also notice how Loydo reacts in horror at the thought of corporate investment. God forbid anyone other than the government spend money.

  15. Meanwhile, here in the holier-than-thou UK, we produce electricity from something called….. biomass.
    Let me tell you what ‘biomass’ is.
    Biomass comprises trashing the forests of North Carolina; grinding the trees up to make wood chips; processing them to turn them into pellets; shipping them 3000 miles across the Atlantic to put on a diesel-powered train to take them to Drax power station in Yorkshire – the one that’s built on a coalmine – where they are burnt to produce electricity.
    The resultant CO2 – of which there is more than burning coal, of course – ‘doesn’t count’ as emissions – because (in theory) in 30 year’s time a new tree – planted to replace the ones cut down – will absorb the CO2 that burning the present trees produces.
    That, folks, is the lunacy around biomass…

  16. “Brazil’s rainfall is tied to sea surface temperature patterns in both the Pacific and Atlantic, especially related to El Nino and La Nina activity.”
    My translation: We don’t have a clue. Otherwise, a very nice post.

  17. Monday I was curious how NBC covered the fires in Brazil so did something I rarely do, turned on NBC national news. They had a news team flown around the fires so they could get good shots of all these nasty fires while talking about just how much of the amazon was burning. What did I see? Grassland on fire, fields on fire and slash burning in obviously logged off areas (Im from timber country and know what a clear cut looks like). In the video shots of the slash burn, fire scorched the trees on the edges but was not showing penetrating any farther. That’s not exactly the Amazonian jungle on fire as they are portraying.

  18. I’ve commented before about how ill advised it was for singular global focus on CO2 came at the cost of ignoring the Amazon and Borneo forests but I did not expect this swing back to rain forests to look like this.

    I guess when the last African elephant or lion is found dead they will lament singular focus on CO2.

  19. Re that last graphic: I would note that, while true that minds are being lost, it is hardly “everyone”.
    Unless of course one stipulates in advance that it is individuals on the political left that are the subjects being discussed.
    To the extent that they had minds to lose…yup, they lose them.
    Whenever they feel like someone else with other ideas might get some attention.
    Let us not be coy about it.
    These people are either shameless liars with zero scruples and a strict aversion to the truth, or completely insane, or clueless ignoramuses.
    The only real question is in the particulars of this last observation.

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