Listen: Fires in Brazil's Amazon blamed on deforestation
"There's anger and dismay around the world about what's happening in the amazon right now. Tens of thousands of fires are burning in the rainforest dramatically more than last year environmentalists. I say many of these are caused by cattle ranchers and loggers clearing forest land. They blame brazil's president for encouraging them. N._p._r.'s philip brees has just returned from a trip to the amazon and i can you just give us a sense of scale. How serious is the situation. I know it's a cliche but the amazon rainforest really is the lungs of the world stores vast amounts of carbon. That's really crucial for slowing climate change. There are tens of thousands of fires in the forest every year but this year the number is far higher. Let me give you some of the figures according to brazil's institute of space that being more than seventy four thousand dollars this year and that's up more in eighty percent on last year and a lot of these are in the amazon the have been spikes before in two thousand and five for example but back then there was a drought and and environmentalists and climate change experts saying there's no drought this year and there are no doubt the people causing most of these in order to clear land often for cattle and they say that they have the data to prove it. When you visited the rainforest. How close were you able to get to see evidence of these fires always in the west of brazil in the state of actually which is mostly actually covered by rainforest and i drove into the forest and started to see smoke pretty early on and eventually came across a fire. There's actually burning there so i turned on my taper cola woah this area of land here well inside the amazon rainforest is burning. I can see charred tree stumps all around me smoke rising not just about this particular part of the fire but of over in the distance old around. I could see the forest but i could also see a large area. Maybe ten twelve football fields that has been unburned now. That's just one fire if you think that there are many thousands of these sense of the scale of this a scale so great that according to the world meteorological organization tation smoke from amazon fis is actually reaching the atlantic coast and also brazil's biggest city sao paulo way to the south of the amazon. Why are environmentalists blaming aiming brazil's president for this jabu scenario. The president argues that his government can exploit the amazon's mineral and agricultural wealth and preserve the forest but if you look at what he's actually done since taking office in january. It doesn't seem to have much to do with preservation. He's weakened government environmental enforcement osman agencies. He's alienated too key foreign sources of money for preservation projects norway and germany. He's also scoffed at satellite data compiled compiled by the government's monitoring agency and a lot of people say that by doing this does not always encouraging illegal loggers cattle ranches to cause more destruction of the kind. We're seeing now. Listen to the amer hamas. Who's from the socio environmental institute here in brazil. I think that it shows to people that the government's not interested stood in enforcing the legislation and strengthening all the strategies to combat deforestation like green sign for people to go into the ground rounding to the forest without any kind of control because they know that the president afterwards will say well that didn't happen. You know how is wilson are reacting getting to these kinds of accusations well. He's tried to counter-attack by suggesting without offering any evidence that non-governmental organizations are deliberately setting fires lies in the forest to make him look bad boston tried to row back from that remarks somewhat today by posting online video accusing the media of irresponsibly hyping those remarks but the allegations still out there and it's causing a lot of astonishment also outrage. There is generally a lot of anger here about what's happening in the rainforest brazil's environment minister at a taste of that during a u._n. Climate change meeting here in brazil this week where he was heckled and booed and in the coming days protests are planned around brazil to highlight the crisis in amazon. That's n._p._r.'s philip reeve's in rio de janeiro philip thank you you're welcome."