Government Discloses False Information that Burning in Brazil Is The Lowest in 18 Years

Secretariat of Communication compared 8 months of 2020 with data from 12 months of previous years


In an attempt to evade criticism of environmental policy in the face of fire outbreaks in the Amazon and the Pantanal, the government of Jair Bolsonaro published on Saturday (26) an incorrect comparison and made a false claim that the area burned in the country is the lowest in the last 18 years.

"Even with the outbreaks of fire that affect the Pantanal and other Brazilian biomes, the area burned throughout the national territory is the smallest in the last 18 years. Data from Inpe [National Institute for Space Research] reveals that 2007 was the year Brazil suffered most from the fires," published Secom.

The Communication Secretariat compared data from eight months of this year with data from 12 months from previous years.

Porto Velho, in Rondônia. (Foto: André Cran/Folhapress) - Folhapress

"Nothing more didactic for us to have a clear picture of the last years. The INPE numbers are there so that everyone can see the truth", wrote Minister Fabio Faria.

Sought by Folha, Secom said that "it exposed the data that are available, without hiding anything" and that "what goes beyond that is the newspaper's fallacious statement."

INPE data is public, free, and easy to understand. From January to August 2020, 121,318 km² were recorded throughout Brazil. This data is used in Secom's publication. However, for 2019, the Secretariat of Communication uses the data of 318,389 km² that burned during all 12 months of last year.

If it used the same period as is possible for 2020 - from January to August -, the burned area would still be larger in 2019, the first year of Bolsonaro's administration, 131,327 km².

However, by comparing the same periods from 2003 to 2020, the government would have to report that 2020 had more area burned than the years 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018.

Folha contested Secom's initial response, but there was no demonstration until the publication of this report.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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