Brazilian president responds to the 'lungs of the world' crisis

Jair Bolsonaro faces international condemnation for "not taking the fires seriously enough" as the scale of the fires reach what would cover half of the United States.
1:29 | 08/24/19

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Transcript for Brazilian president responds to the 'lungs of the world' crisis
morning involving the crisis in the Amazon. The so-called lungs of the world on fire. The president of Brazil, a man sometimes known as the trump of the tropics, now reversing course. At first he said his critics might have set the fires to embarrass him, but this morning he is sending in the army. ABC's Matt Gutman is there in Sao Paulo with the latest. Matt, good morning to you. Reporter: Hey, good morning, Dan. This is a dramatic reversal from Brazil's president. Not only is he authorizing the military to fight the fires, but also to prevent new ones by stopping farmers from clearing brush. But already critics are arguing that this is a mostly symbolic move because of the relatively small size of Brazil's military. And this comes amid an international outcry that he's not taken these fires seriously enough. The scale of the fires is almost incomprehensible. In the United States, it would cover an area from Detroit to Los Angeles. About 85% more forest has burned this year than last year. The government says a new fire is started -- get this -- every minute. The area of smoke is so large it's visible from space. Now, the Amazon produces about 20% of the world's oxygen, helps regulate its temperature but what is so troubling is that we're just at the start of the dry season here which lasts through November and forecasters are saying these fires are only going to intensify. Dan. As you said, Matt, it's a problem for the entire world. Matt Gutman on the ground of Brazil, thank you very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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