The fires are mostly burning in northern Brazil and have prompted the Brazilian state of Amazonas to declare a state of emergency.
Fires are ragining in the Amazon rainforest and they could be a massive blow against the efforts to prevent climate change. They've gotten so bad that neaby São Paulo's skyline is covered in black smoke, making day as dark as night.
According to Brazil's space research organization, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), there have been a total of 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, with more than half in the Amazon region. That's more than an 80% increase compared with the same period last year. Most of the fires are man-made, which is not uncommon for the region. During dry months fires are used to clear land or maintain farmland and pastures.
The Amazon is often referred to as the planet's lungs, producing 20% of the oxygen in the earth's atmosphere.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change denier and pro-business advocate for the logging industry, has been bullish about his intention to allow industry into the protected Amazon rainforest. He's opened up the formerly protected region to loggers and miners, and has fired the director of the INPE for calling him out on the effect his policies have had on the environment. Environmental activists and organizations like the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) warn that if the Amazon reaches a point of no return, the rainforest could become a dry savannah, no longer habitable for much of its wildlife. If this happens, instead of being a source of oxygen, it could start emitting carbon -- the major driver of climate change.
In July, Greenpeace called Bolsonaro and his government a "threat to the climate equilibrium" and warned that in the long run, his policies would bear a "heavy cost" for the Brazilian economy.