"I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame,” Bolsonaro quipped
"Nero fiddled while Rome burned." This allegation against the Roman tyrant is perhaps not easy to prove now because it happened in 64 AD, and because at the time of the fire, Nero was at his villa in Antium- some 35 miles from Rome.
However, when Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro made jokes while the Amazon forest burned, the world witnessed and recorded it.
"I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame," Bolsonaro quipped at journalists as he dismissed a question at a press conference.
Through irresponsible remarks and reluctant action in the face of a blazing Amazon, the Brazilian President has established himself as a villain to environmental activists around the world.
But at a time when a climate-skeptic like Donald Trump is president of the second most polluting country, economic giants like China continue to be in the list of top polluters, or Australia's Scott Morrison continues to support giant fossil fuel based corporations, Jair Bolsonaro is not the only climate villain in the world.
More than 74,000 fires have ravaged the Amazon rainforest this year, an ecosystem on which the whole world depends. Only the recent fires since August 15 in the Amazon created an international outcry.
When world leaders, alarmed by the massive fire, called for swift governmental response to save the Amazon, Jair Bolsonaro, instead of taking action, chose to initiate a war of words with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Although the fire is still burning on a smaller scale, Bolsanaro is still hooked on his arrogance. He refused a $20 million aid pledged by the world leaders at the recent G7 summit and, suggested reforesting Europe with that money.
Instead of rooting for the Amazon, Brazil's president chose to appear as an advocate to destroy the forest in the name of development.
He appointed another climate-skeptic Ricardo Salls as the Minister of Environment, who said the Amazon fire has resulted from dry weather, wind and heat.
The environmental organizations working in Brazil, however, allege that the president's agenda to open up the Amazon for farming, logging and mining, worked as an approval for opportunists to set the rainforest on fire.
They further accuse Jair Bolsonaro of weakening the governmental agencies assigned to protect the Amazon by ending inspections for illegal deforestation.
Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil's National Institute of Amazonian Research, told Newsweek that President Bolsonaro has created "a climate of impunity under the assumption that there will be no consequences for ignoring environmental regulations."
When allegations against Bolsonaro's climate policy heated up worldwide, US President Donald Trump, who believes that the concept of global warming was "created by the Chinese to make US manufacturing non-competitive" showered Bolsonaro with praise.
While the G7 discussed climate issues, Donald Trump skipped the meeting and tweeted that President Bolsonaro was "working very hard on the Amazon fires".
It is truly distressing to see how people like Trump and Bolsanaro, who hold the power to change world climate for better, might actually make it worse for us to live and breathe.
A staunch disbeliever in climate change, Donald Trump is the president of a country that never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and scrapped the Paris Agreement that deals with greenhouse gas emissions.
In a sense, President Trump's stance on Bolsonaro is honest. Being the president of a country with the second highest polluting rate in the world, holding a tainted track record as far as combating climate change is concerned; Donald Trump barely has the moral ground to lecture his Brazilian friend as the Amazon burns.
China, on the other hand, itself has miles to go before it can curb pollution; but its President Xi Jinping claims to support climate-friendly finance. With its enormous export market, China is one of the world's most polluting countries. Its level of pollution is astonishing as five of its industrial provinces alone produce more carbon dioxide than most countries.
Meanwhile, amidst all the cries for climate change, Australia's Scott Morrison could actually rejoice over the last election result in May 8.
His climate-skeptic Liberal party turned out triumphant, defying the predictions that brutal droughts, floods and wildfires could lead them to lose the election.
Morrison's election victory further paved the way for corporations that deal with fossil fuels to expand their businesses. To begin with his term as Prime Minister, the Morrison government offered giant Indian conglomerate Adani Group official approval on the Carmichael coal mining project in June. And he has miles to go before his term ends.
While all these leaders dream of cashing in on industries that destabilise the climate, the direct impact of their dangerous actions make countries like Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation, become more susceptible to the effects of rising sea level. Without holding them back, a disastrous future awaits the world.