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The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning Like Never Before That Fumes Can Be Seen From Outer Space

The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning Like Never Before That Fumes Can Be Seen From Outer Space

Wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest have hit a record number this year, with 72,843 fires detected so far by Brazil’s space research center INPE.

Whether anyone wants to talk about it or not, the Amazon rainforest is burning at a record rate, and the devastation can be seen from space. Since August 15, more than 9,500 new forest fires have started across Brazil, primarily in the Amazon basin. This year so far, scientists have recorded more than 74,000 fires in Brazil.

 



 

 

Rainforests are frequently referred to as the lungs of the planet, and the Amazon rainforest is a key component in carbon storage, biodiversity and reducing air pollution. The Amazon rainforest filters and reprocesses harmful carbon dioxide—through its numerous trees and plants. Needless to say, this is a vital concern for everyone in the world. 



 

 

Roughly half the size of the United States, it is the largest rainforest on the planet. It’s an area that almost never burns on its own, yet the blazes have grown so intense that they blacked out the sky above. Dramatic images and videos on social media show giant plumes of smoke rising from the greenery and lines of fire leaving blackened waste in their wake. The smoke has reached all the way to Sao Paulo, more than 1,700 miles away.

As per Brazil’s space research center INPE, this is the highest recorded since 2013. The satellite footage by the agency showed an 83 percent increase over the same time in 2018. 



 

 

On 19 August 2019, an hour-long daytime blackout was reported in Sao Paulo, because of the smoke brought on by the strong winds from fires in the state of Amazonas and Rondonia, located more than 1,700 miles away. "It was as if the day had turned into night," said a resident to CBS. The Amazonas, on the other hand, has declared a state of emergency in the southern part of the state and in its capital Manaus on 9 August 2019.



 

 

But the Amazon rainforest, which remains drenched for much of the year, does not burn naturally. Instead, the fires are ignited by people. Farmers use slash-and-burn tactics to clear land for farming and pasture, though it's illegal in Brazil this time of year due to fire risk. 

“The dry season creates the favorable 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.



 

 

Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, suggested the fires were started by environmental NGOs to embarrass his government.  In Brazil's Amazonas state, heat from forest fires has been above average every day this month, according to data provided to the Guardian by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.



 

 

Asked about the spread of uncontrolled fires, Bolsonaro brushed off the criticism, saying it was the time of the year of the “queimada” or burn when farmers use fire to clear land. “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada,” he told reporters.



 

 

The head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Amazon Programme, Ricardo Mello said that the fire was caused due to the increase in deforestation figures over the years. A report by INPE said that there was an 88 percent increase in deforestation in June 2019 compared to the same month last year.



 

 

The daytime blackout, which lasted for about an hour, came after strong winds brought in smoke from forest fires burning in the states of Amazonas and Rondonia, more than 2,700km (1,700 miles) away. Conservationists have blamed Mr. Bolsonaro, saying he has encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land.

"There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average. The dry season creates the favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident," said INPE researcher Alberto Setzer to Reuters. 



 

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