Michael Shellenberger: "Against the picture painted by celebrities and the mainstream media that fires around the world are caused by economic growth, the truth is the opposite: the amount of land being burned is declining thanks to development, including urbanization. That's because the amount of land being converted into ranches and farms has been going down, not up, and because more of it is being done with machines than with fire. For the last 35 years, the world has been re-foresting, meaning new tree growth has exceeded deforestation. The area of the Earth covered with forest has increased by an area the size of Texas and Alaska combined.
Less land is being converted into agriculture globally in part because farmers are growing more food on less land. Much of the re-forestation is occurring in deserts and tundra that had been barren, thanks to human-led reforestation initiatives, such as in China and Africa, and because of global warming. Warmer temperatures are what have allowed forests to grow in tundra.
"The wealthy countries hold big speeches on the need to avoid deforestation but they already deforested everything. "Few countries have the moral authority to talk about deforestation with Brazil." - Luis Inácio "Lula" da Silva (2007)
"Since NASA satellites program MODIS began collecting measurements there has been a decrease in the total number of square kilometers burned each year. Between 2003 and 2019, that number has dropped by roughly 25 percent." --NASA Earth Observatory, August 2019
"News reports about the Amazon fires strike a fear that one of the last great forests is disappearing. That’s completely untrue. Forests are making a comeback! More precisely, the tree cover of the planet is increasing. Since 1982, a recent peer-reviewed paper in Nature suggests, the planet’s tree cover increased by 2.24 million km2 (an increase of roughly 7%)." --Vincent Geloso, American Institute for Economic Research, 26 August 2019
Brendan O’Neill: 'We’re being lied to about the rainforest. The fires are not out of control. This is not ecocide. The Amazon is not the lungs of the world. And there are more trees on Earth today than there were 35 years ago. Don’t believe the greens'
Update: NASA: Uptick in Amazon Fire Activity in 2019 - August 19, 2019: "With the fire season in the Amazon approaching its midpoint, scientists using NASA satellites to track fire activity have confirmed an increase in the number and intensity of fires in the Brazilian Amazon in 2019, making it the most active fire year in that region since 2010."
"The Amazon rainforest is not the "lungs of the Earth" - It does NOT produce 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen. The Amazon rain forest is a closed system that uses all its own oxygen and carbon dioxide."
So why are there so many fires? “Natural fires in the Amazon are rare, and the majority of these fires were set by farmers preparing Amazon-adjacent farmland for next year’s crops and pasture,” soberly explainsThe New York Times. “Much of the land that is burning was not old-growth rain forest, but land that had already been cleared of trees and set for agricultural use.”
It is routine for farmers and ranchers in tropical areas burn their fields to control pests and weeds and to encourage new growth in pastures. What about deforestation trends? Since the right-wing nationalist Jair Bolsonaro became Brazil’s president, rainforest deforestation rates have increased a bit, but they are still way below their earlier highs:
"The left is doing its level best to blame Brazil's bush fires on Brazil's conservative, Trump-like president, Jair Bolsonaro, and get him thrown out of office...Socialist President Evo Morales has openly encouraged what's known, at least in Venezuela, as "conuco" agriculture, telling subsistance farmers it's fine to set of fires to gather charcoal to sell for fuel or clear the land of brush for planting, and now he's refusing international firefighting help."
"Now Bolivia is robbing them of their rimshot argument. No more Sting and the rainforest man for their "narrative" now. What appears to be a far more desperate and mismanaged situation is going on Bolivia, and we don't see any eurochicken clucking about the "lungs of the world" or sanctioning the socialist hellhole. The European Union and much of the G-7 are focused exclusively on Brazil and putting the screws to Bolsonaro blaming him for a broader temporary weather phenomenon. It's starting to look political and it would be a welcome thing if President Trump sticks up for the man among the clucker. Bolivia makes their hypocrisy show."