The Amazon Rainforest Threatened by an Increase of Wildfires
According to experts, Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest is a key component in the fight against climate change, the forest helps absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and is also referred to as the planet’s lungs producing 20% of the world’s oxygen.
“The rain forest, which contains 90 billion to 140 billion metric tons of carbon, help stabilize local and global climate. The Amazon also pumps about 7 trillion tons of water per year into the atmosphere, and its forests recycle 50%-75% of annual rainfall back into the atmosphere,” according to World Wild Life.
The forest is also home to one million indigenous people and contains one in ten known species on Earth. In July, the rainforest witnessed a rise in deforestation. By July 25 the forest lost about 1,345 sq km, many believe it is due to Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who has allowed illegal land invasion, logging, and burning, according to the Guardian.
Recently, the Amazon Rainforest has been dealing with a numerous amount of wildfires. There have been 72,843 wildfires this year an 83% increase since last year. Since Thursday, the National Institute for Space Research spotted 9,507 new forest fires.
On Monday, the city of São Paulo, Brazil was covered with dark smoke making daylight disappear. According to Climatempo, Sao Paulo was not the only city affected but also the states of the Southern Region and Mato Grosso do Sul. In Mato Grosso do Sul the smoke was even more visible than in Sao Paulo, caused by a large number of burns from Bolivia and Paraguay.
“Spotlights of fire increase by effective human action, but also naturally, as very dry vegetation and sometimes strong winds spread the fire. Burning by farmers to clear the land to plant the new summer crop is a practice that facilitates the spread of fire,” according to Climatempo.
Brazilian President Bolsonaro spoke about the fires and blamed them on non-profit organizations because the government cut the organization’s funding. There is no proof that NGOs caused the fires.
“Regarding the fires in the Amazon, I am under the impression that it could have been set by the NGOs because they had asked for money. What was their intention? To bring about problems for Brazil,” Bolsonaro said, “At the start, I was ridiculed and continue to be in the shadow of those great meetings that deal with the climate. If it (the Paris climate deal) had been good the Americans would not have left, but for now, we are there.”
Amazon Watch is a non-profit organization with the goal to sustain the rainforest, the organization posted a news release and program director Christian Poirier said:
“The unprecedented fires ravaging the Amazon are an international tragedy and a dangerous contribution to climate chaos. This devastation is directly related to President Bolsonaro’s anti-environmental rhetoric, which erroneously frames forest protections and human rights as impediments to Brazil’s economic growth. Farmers and ranchers understand the president’s message as a license to commit arson with wanton impunity, in order to aggressively expand their operations into the rainforest.”
Many have expressed their concerns about rainforest’s fires by tweeting #PrayForTheAmazon, the hashtag was trending for several days in the beginning of the week.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke tweeted, Our planet is on fire. Our farms are underwater. Our future is in jeopardy. And in our complacency, in our inaction, in our excesses—all of us are responsible.
Conservative and author Paul Rosolie, posted a video on Twitter and Instagram on-ground footage of the fires.
“The impact is devastating because it is destroying unique, irreplaceable ecosystems and it’s worsening climate change at the same time,” Michael Mann, Climate Scientist told NBC Nightly News.
Climate scientist, Dr. Jonathan Foley tweeted a thread about the fires and why the events are crucial. In the thread, Foley talked about how the Brazilian Amazon is usually burning at this time of the year but what is unusual is the amount of increasing fires.
“In all, changes in deforestation in the Amazon are *hugely* important to the planet. There was good news (lower rates of deforestation) and this appears to be sliding backward. This is one of the most important things to shape the future of Earth’s climate and biodiversity. I would put this near or at the top of the list of “things that we should be focusing on RIGHT NOW” for climate change and the global environment,” Foley tweeted.
Areas of the rainforest currently experiencing the wildfires can be found here.