Although officials have said that dry weather and natural factors are behind the massive fires ravaging Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, others are suggesting that humans are likely to blame.
Numerous environmentalists say the blazes, which have been burning at a record pace for weeks, threatening wildlife and Earth’s oxygen, were set by cattle ranchers and farmers in an attempt to clear the land for their own use, according to CNN.
“The vast majority of these fires are human-lit,” Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organization Amazon Watch, told the outlet, pointing out that the humid rainforest doesn’t catch fire easily.
“This year’s fires fit into an established seasonal agricultural pattern,” added CNN meteorologist Haley Brink. “It’s the best time to burn because the vegetation is dry. [Farmers] wait for the dry season and they start burning and clearing the areas so that their cattle can graze. And that’s what we’re suspecting is going on down there.”
Officials with Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) have said humans, dry weather and natural factors are to blame for the uptick in blazes.
“There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average,” INPE researcher Alberto Setzer said, Reuters previously reported. “The dry season creates the favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.”