French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday took to Twitter to urge countries from around the world to respond to the massive fires in the Amazon, but his remarks were met with hostility by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who essentially warned Macron to stay out of it.
The comments played out on Twitter as news reports indicated there is international concern about Bolsonaro’s environmental policy and its effect on the forest. The European Union called the forests there the world’s “lungs and life support system.”
The exact number of burning fires is somewhere around 2,500. Sao Paulo was in the dark for about one hour Monday afternoon as a result of the fires about 1,600 miles away. One Twitter user posted a photo of the clouds and said: “Imagine how much has to be burning to create this much smoke.”
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research counted 47,155 wildfires as of Tuesday, an 84 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
Bolsonaro, who admitted that farmers may be intentionally setting the fires to clear land, admitted his country does not have the resources to control the fires, Reuters reported. He lashed out a Macron for what he said Is an attempt to “make personal political gains in an internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries.”
He added that calls from Macron to discuss the fires at the G7 summit in Biarritz evoked a "misplaced colonialist mindset". Brazil is not part of the G7.
Reuters reported that farmers in Brazil — if not outright — had “tacit” encouragement from Bolsonaro who has maintained that the Amazon should be utilized for Brazil’s economy. The news agency reported that a so-called “Fire Day” was designated to show the president that farmers were eager to work.
Bolsonaro’s office has denied claims by the EU that deforestation is at historic levels, but did mention the difficulties of policing an area of land “bigger than Europe.”
“How will you fight criminal fires in such an area?” he asked. About 60 percent of the Amazon is in Brazil. It is home to more than 30 percent of the world’s plant and animal species.
Macron appeared to take the EU’s position and stressed the urgency of the matter.
“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest — the lungs which produce 20 percent of our planet’s oxygen — is on fire,” he said. "It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days!"
Fox News' Lucia I. Suarez Sang contributed to this report.