The Amazonian rainforests, often referred to as the lungs of the planet since they act as a carbon sink while soaking up the majority of carbon dioxide emissions, have been the victim of devastating forest fires this year. While rainforests are usually considered to have a wet and humid environment, the months of July and August till October are a time of brief dry spell in the region, thus linked to annual forest fires. The rainforests of Brazilian Amazon has experienced 74,155 fires since January 2019, as reported by the Brazillian space agency INPE, an 85% increase from last year. Even the devastating fires of 2016, caused due to severe drought conditions directly co-related to the El Nino event in the region, had clocked 67,790 blazes, significantly lower than this year. Since the fire season in Brazil peaks between August and October, expert fear that what happens in the coming months will be crucial in determining the significance of these events and their effects upon human life on earth.
“More than a third of all species in the world live in the Amazon rainforest,” the European Space Agency commented, and “unlike other forests, rainforests have difficulty regrowing after they are destroyed and, owing to their composition, their soils are not suitable for long-term agricultural use.”
The Brazillian forests have already been suffering from deforestation due to logging, farming, ranching and fires. The 2019 fires are feared to have caused unforeseen damage to the biodiversity of the region, causing a clear spike in dangerous carbon monoxide emissions as well as global-warming carbon dioxide emissions,while posing a threat to human health.
Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has been accused of harming the Amazon rainforest by allowing logging, mining and deforestation, while blamimg NGOs of active sabotage. The head of Brazil’s space agency was fired by President Bolsonaro last month after he disputed the official deforestation data from satellites.
The city of Sao Paolo went dark due to the smoke travelling from the fires blazing in the Brazilian states of Rondônia and Amazonas, which blackened the sky above the city for an hour. The state of Amazonas declared a national emergency earlier this month due to the fires, being the fourth most affected area in Brazil this summer.
As reported by The Washington Post
Cover Image : Satellite image of a wildfire in the Brazilian state of Para(Planet Labs) – The Washington Post