Brazil president still insists forest fire reports hyped up

Updated 30 October 2019

Brazil president still insists forest fire reports hyped up

  • Bolsonaro claims fake news, agendas targeting his country
  • Fires in Brazil’s rainforest were said to be at their peak in August

RIYADH: President Jair M. Bolsonaro is sticking to his guns, and his controversial comments surrounding the widely reported forest fires in his country, claiming they were blown out of proportion.

“At times, certain countries use an environmental agenda or human rights agenda, which is precisely what happened against Brazil,” he said during a discussion panel at the Future Investments Initiative (FII) in Riyadh.

The fires in Brazil’s rainforest were said to be at their peak in August, when the BBC reported 30,901 separate fires.

The same report from October said there were still many fires across parts of the Amazon, although fewer than before.

In September, National Geographic reported that the “unusually severe fires” were presenting a real risk to river life.

And in August, the Hindustan Times presented video footage from NASA showing satellite images of thick plumes of smoke rising from the forest below.

But despite the apparent evidence of the fires and the damage they were causing, Bolsonaro still says the reports were an agenda against his country and fake news.

“It’s a tropical rainforest. It can’t catch on fire,” he said during the panel session with  Lubna Al-Olayan, chairman of the Olayan Financing Company.

“Official data was monitored by satellite and managed. The armed forces immediately cleaned up the forests in order for the number of tourists to not be reduced,” he added. “We’re doing our homework and we’re opening our arms to all of you,” he told the audience.

Bolsonaro urged investors to “give Brazil a chance,” telling them: “We have a huge deal to offer all of you.”

He added: “As part of our ongoing reform efforts, we’ll be spending less than the revenue we’re collecting in taxes. That’s our main and most important guarantee.”

He said he wants his legacy to be a “much better Brazil,” and he wants to “reduce bureaucracy and establish a rational environment for investors.”

He added: “A speech from a head of state won’t convince investors, but facts and figures will. We’ve never had such a low interest rate — around 5.5 percent — and our inflation rate is lower than our target of around 3 percent.”

Bolsonaro met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday. He said the crown prince had pledged to invest $10 billion in Brazil. “These funds will be used in Agra bay, off Rio de Janeiro state, for touristic uses,” Bolsonaro said.


China raises flood alert to second highest level

Updated 12 July 2020

China raises flood alert to second highest level

  • Regional flooding in the Poyang county of Jiangxi has made water levels of China’s Lake Poyang surge to above 22.52 meters
BEIJING/SINGAPORE: China on Sunday raised its flood response alert to the second highest grade as downpours continued to batter regions along the Yangtze River, with the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Jiangxi among the worst hit, state media reported.
Regional flooding in the Poyang county of Jiangxi has made water levels of China’s Lake Poyang, its biggest freshwater lake, surge to above 22.52 meters, a historical high and well above the alert level of 19.50 meters.
By Saturday evening, provincial military authorities had dispatched thousands of soldiers to help bolster nearly 9 km (6 miles) of the lake’s banks to prevent them from bursting, state television said.
China has a four-tier flood control emergency response system, with level one representing the most severe.
Citing data from the Ministry of Water Resources, 212 rivers have since early July exceeded alerting levels including 19 of them rising to historical highs.
China has blamed extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change for the torrential rain that has since June hit large swathes of the country and caused over 60 billion yuan ($8.57 billion) of economic losses.