Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday suggested eating less food, and therefore, defecating less, as an answer to some of the world's problems.
Bolsonaro — who has come under fire in recent weeks after data showed increased deforestation of the Amazon rainforest — offered the response to a reporter who questioned if it was possible to boost the economy, feed those who are hungry and save the environment at the same time. It wasn't clear if Bolsonaro was being sarcastic.
"It's enough to eat a little less. You talk about environmental pollution. It's enough to poop every other day," Bolsonaro said, according to AFP. "That will be better for the whole world."
Critics say that Bolsonaro's policies will help accelerate further deforestation of the Amazon — 60 percent of which is part of Brazil. A key regulator of the Earth's living systems, the rainforest's trees take in as much as 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year and release 20 percent of the planet's oxygen.
New data published last week by the National Institute for Space Research, a federal Brazilian agency, showed that more rainforest was lost between May and July this year than during the same period in 2018, 2017 and 2016.
In July alone, 870 square miles of vegetation was cut down — the biggest surge in deforestation rates since the institute adopted its current methodology in 2014.
Bolsonaro alleged the agency might have manipulated the deforestation data to make his far-right administration look bad. He fired physicist Ricardo Galvão, who served as director of the National Institute for Space Research, after deeming the information "doubtful."
Brazil was once heralded as a global environmental success story. But as data indicates an influx in Amazon deforestation under Bolsonaro — a climate change skeptic with a strongly pro-agrobusiness agenda — some fear what could happen to the rainforest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.