Brazilian space agency Inpe is mapping forest deforestation in the Amazon using satellite imagery. When they reported a 278 percent increase in July, President Jair Bolsonaro attacked and accused the authority of falsifying the numbers.
"I challenged Bolsonaro that we would fly over the areas that we said had been felled, but he did not want that, which indicates an ostrich mentality," Ricardo Galvão, former director of Inpe, told SVT.Got fired
After the conflict, Galvão was fired.
- I wanted to defend the space institute and science, but it had enormous consequences, he says.
The number of fires, which Inpe also charts, has doubled since last year.
- Once you have destroyed areas, there will be forest fires. Undoubtedly. In July, before I left Inpe, we sent a report to the Ministry of Science and Technology about an expected sharp increase in fires in late July and early August, says Ricardo Galvão.
It turned out that he got it right.Macron called the Amazon "our home"
With the fires, the Amazon was soon on the lips of the whole world and France's President Emmanuel Macron led the criticism of Brazil. When in a tweet he used an old picture of fires in Brazil and called the Amazon "our home", it angered Bolsonaro supporters.
"We have many riches and the Brazilian people are still hungry," says Evandro Padovani, Minister of Agriculture in the State of Rondônia. Protected areas are opened for exploitation
Following international pressure and threats of non-negotiated trade agreements, Bolsonaro was forced to act against the fires. He ordered the military to lead the extinguishing work and issued a 60-day firing ban.
But there are double signals from the president of Brazil. To his allies, Bolsonaro confirms that previously protected areas in the rainforest should be opened for economic exploitation.Pain limit at 20-25 percent deviation
The Amazon is a unique and complex ecosystem that is crucial to the Earth's climate and biodiversity. So far, about 17 percent of the rainforest has been degraded. According to researchers, the pain limit is at 20-25 percent. Then the Amazon can no longer produce the water needed for the ecosystem to function and the rainforest to be transformed into savanna, steppe and desert.
"We need to find proposals that respect Brazil's independence and that allow for sustainable economic development in the Amazon," says Ricardo Galvão.
See the full interview in Sunday's Agenda at 21.15.