Amazon Rainforest burning at a very fast rate.
The Amazon rainforest, the vessel holding a massive amount of the world’s oxygen, is burning at a rate scientists have never seen before.
The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has recorded more than 74,000 fires so far this year – an 84 per cent increase on the same period in 2018. It’s the highest number since records began in 2013.
The Amazon is regarded as vital in the fight against global warming due to its ability to absorb carbon from the air. It’s often referred to as the “lungs of the Earth,” as more than 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen is produced there and is home to 10% of the world’s known biodiversity.
Brazil has the biggest share of the 670 million hectares of forest (60 per cent), which is home to more species than anywhere else on the planet.
But unlike in other ecosystems, scientists say the wildfires burning in the Amazon are not natural.
The world would drastically change if the rainforest were to disappear, with impacts on everything from farms to drinking water.
Causes of the Rainforest Fire
Deforestation is considered the major contributing factor behind the alarming numbers.
The Amazon rainforest has been “fire-resistant” for much of its history because of its natural environment, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but can go through hot spells.
Environmentalists have also put the blame on President Jair Bolsonaro, saying his policies have only threatened the forest more.
Bolsonaro has suggested that the data showing the increase in wildfires isn’t accurate — even going as far as to blame NGOs without evidence for starting fires. He said his government is working to control the fires, but it’s not clear what measures the administration is taking.
While drought can be a factor in rainforest fires, INPE researchers have said there is nothing abnormal about the climate or rainfall amounts in the Amazon this year.
“The dry season creates the favourable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident,” INPE research Alberto Setzer told Reuters.
Human activities — farming, mining and drilling — are what scientists say are exacerbating the situation now.
In Brazil, cattle farmers start fires deliberately to clear forest to make way for ranching, and it’s not always legal.
In Mato Grosso and Para, where Brazil’s agricultural frontier has expanded and pushed into the forest basin, more deforestation has been recorded and wildfires have increased.
The World Wildlife Fund estimates that more than a quarter of the Amazon will be without trees by 2030 if the current rate of deforestation continues.
The smoke from the fires is visible from space. The European Union Earth Observation Program’s Sentinel satellites captured images of “significant amounts of smoke” over Amazonas, Rondonia and other areas. NASA has been monitoring the fires. Over the past week, satellites from the EU and NASA have been tweeting images of the smoke on social media. Satellites have also kept tabs on the uptick in fires over this year, NASA tweeted.
Have the fires been put out?
The fires are still active. On Saturday, Amnesty International captured a photo of the burned forests in the Mato Grosso state. Bolsonaro was mobilizing the Brazilian army to combat the flames, Euronews reported.
The patchy rain expected through Sept. 10 is only expected to bring minor relief but won’t help to extinguish the fire, Reuters reported Tuesday. The rain that’s forecast for the next two weeks is reportedly set to fall in the areas that need it the least.
While Bolsonaro faces criticism, US President Donald Trump tweeted his support on Tuesday. Bolsonaro responded and said Brazil is fighting the wildfires with “great success.” Last week, Trump said the US stood ready to assist fighting the fires.
Bolivia President Evo Morales contracted a Boeing 747 “Supertanker” last week to help extinguish the fires, Telesur reported. The Supertanker is capable of flying with 115,000 liters (over 30,000 gallons) and was expected to be operational Friday.
What we and the world is doing about this issue?
Other countries working to fight climate change have started to take notice. Norway and Germany have pulled out of funding for projects to quell deforestation in Brazil.
Greenpeace called the president and his government a “threat to the climate equilibrium” and warned that Brazil would shoulder a “heavy cost” to its economy under his policies.
We can also spread this in social media for awareness and hopefully a global action to stop this dreadful event before everything is too late.
Amazon rainforest burning.
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