Deforestation is at an all-time high in the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest -- significantly higher than during the same period last year. Latest data released by Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research (INPE) shows that deforestation accelerated in the months of May and June.

INPE revealed that about 769.1 square kilometers of rain forest were lost in June compared to 488.4 square kilometers during the same period in 2018. Experts say this is equvalient to just larger than one and a half soccer fields being destroyed every minute of everyday.

Senior analyst Matt Piotrowski at Climate Advisers pointed out that cattle ranching has the greatest impact on Amazon deforestation in Brazil. Piotrowski said estimates suggest that 80 percent of deforestation throughout the entire Amazon stems from this industry, either directly or indirectly.

He also said soy is increasingly a threat to the Amazon. “There are other important drivers of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon,” Piotrowski explained. “Amid Brazil’s agricultural boom, infrastructure development -- particularly roads and railways, in connection with the increased production, transportation, export and consumption of commodities has also led to more clearing of land,” he said.

Amazon Rainforest, South America
The Manu River is seen from an aerial view at the Manu Biosphere Reserve in Peru's southern Amazon region of Madre de Dios November 1, 2009. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivi

However, environmentalists say that Brazil’s "anti-environment" President Jair Bolsonaro’s don’t care attitude about the Amazon drainforest and the environment as a whole is detrimental to the planet. International environmental advocate Greenpeace has even called Bolsonaro and his government a "threat to the climate equilibrium."

Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of Observatorio do Climate, an environment NGO, told CNN that over the past six months, Bolsonaro and his environment minister have been dismantling the Brazilian environmental governance and neutralizing regulatory bodies. According to The Globe Post, the Brazilian president’s policies are disastrous for the Amazon.

Various media reports have pointed out Bolsonaro’s policy to annouce in advance when and where the state environment agency will conduct a raid on illegal loggers. In the process, the violaters get away. “As a result, 2019 has so far seen the fewest fines imposed in over a decade, and seizures of illegal wood have been pitiful,” said The Globe Post. “In the long run, these policies will destroy even large-scale agribusiness in the region,” it said.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have voiced concerns about the degrading environmental protections in Brazil. But the CNN said the European Union struck a deal with Mercosur, the South American trade bloc, which environmentalists are alarmed about as it would put more pressure on the Amazon.

Environmentalists say the Amazon is under threat and if nothing is done, Earth’s lungs will be choked up.