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Amazon Rainforest on fire

Why is Brazil’s Amazon rainforest on fire

August 23, 2019

A record rate of 73,000 fires has been detected at the Amazon rainforest this year by Brazil’s space research centre, INPE. This is a record rate as it marks an 83 percent increase from 2018 and is the highest number on record since 2013, according to Reuters. The Brazil government had declared a state of emergency over the rising number of fires in the region. 

The rainforest, which contributes almost 20 percent of the earth’s oxygen, has been burning for over the past 16 days. This has created a major loss of biodiversity. Not only trees, but the Amazon rainforest is also the natural habitat of millions of mammals and insect species.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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What led to the fire?

Although forest fires are common in the Amazon during this time of the year due to extremely dry weather, 99 percent of the forest fires have been caused by human actions, either deliberate or accidental. According to environmentalists, farmers and ranchers use fire generally to clear the land for further utilisation, so that their cattle can graze. For them, this is the most suitable time to burn the forest because the vegetation is dry.

Effects of the forest fire on environment:

The Amazon rainforest fire could deliver a huge blow to the global fight against climate change as it is releasing excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The fire releases pollutants and toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and non-methane organic compounds that are harmful to the biodiversity. 

In fact, the impact can already be seen in different regions in South America including the Atlantic coast and Sao Paulo, which is located about thousands of kilometres away from the burning fire. The Brazilian city has plunged into sudden darkness with a dark, smoky haze that has enveloped the city. Even the rain that poured down smelled like smoke. 

What is being done to combat the fires?

Bolivia has contracted its Boeing 747 ‘Supertanker’ to help put out the Amazon rainforest fire, operations which will start from August 23. The announcement was made by Bolivia’s President Evo Morales. Some non-profit organisations are also helping in putting out the fires: Amazon Conservation TeamAmazon Conservation Association, Rainforest Alliance and The Rainforest Foundation.

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