The bushfires in Australia bring flashbacks of last August in the Brazilian Amazon, when news of massive blazes also captured the world’s attention (and for many, provoked intense concern and rage). Although the Amazon fires are currently out of the headlines, now is actually a critical time to understand what happened in order to avoid a repeat of the crisis in 2020.
A key piece to the drama is that several months after the fires, Brazil was in the news again with the release of new data showing escalating deforestation in the Amazon. Critically, however, few have made the key connection between the fire and deforestation stories.
The common media narrative, and resulting public perception, is that large uncontrolled fires were raging through the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, causing vast destruction and deforestation. Subsequent analysis of extensive satellite imagery archives, however, has quietly revealed the opposite scenario: many of the fires were actually burning the remains of areas that were recently deforested.