‘World’s lungs’ burn at an alarming rate

‘World’s lungs’ burn at an alarming rate
Representative Image

BRASILIA: Amazon rainforests, the world’s biggest rainforests, are getting devoured by a rampant forest fire at an alarming rate. More than a soccer field’s worth of Amazon forest is falling every minute, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, known as INPE. Although rendering havoc amongst the native life of Brazil, the fires are also emitting copious amounts of carbon in the atmosphere. The situation has escalated to an alarming level at a quick pace as now many states in Brazil are engulfed in copious amounts of smoke, even blocking out the sunlight in many regions. The devastating fires can be attributed to stubble burning or farmers clearing out forest land to set up farms. Most of the agricultural burn-offs are in deforested areas, but there are also fires in protected reserves, the number of which has increased drastically this year. Many scientists have said that this government’s policy of encouraging deforestation has boosted the land clearance that helps fires rage, and has given people a license to burn the land. Scientists have also alluded to the ongoing climate crisis as being the primary catalysts in escalating the situation. “In addition to increasing emissions, deforestation contributes directly to a change in rainfall patterns in the affected region, extending the length of the dry season, further affecting forests, biodiversity, agriculture and human health,” Greenpeace said in a press release.

NASA released images on August 11 showing the spread of fires and reported that its satellites had detected heightened fire activity in July and August. This year, the number of fires in Brazil is the highest on record since 2013 and is up by 85 per cent from last year, according to several reports. The country’s space research center has already detected more than 80,000 fires this year.

Amazon fires are so large that they are visible from space. Jumping into action, the Brazilian government has deployed over 44,000 troops to on August 23, to extinguish the blaze which has created a layer of smoke which now covers 1.2 million square miles. Warplanes have also been drafted in to dump water on the areas affected. The military will use two C-130 Hercules aircraft capable of dumping up to 12,000 liters of water on fires.

The damage to the ‘Lungs of the Earth’ has gained international attention, as many countries are now coming together to the aid of Brazil to fight the crisis. The fires’ significance was realized and large scale discussions were held at the G-7 summit. French President Emmanuel Macron said G7 countries would release $22m (£18m). The funding pledge was announced as the leaders of the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – met in Biarritz, France for the 2019 edition of the summit. President Macron said the funds would be made available “immediately” – primarily to pay for more fire-fighting planes – and that France would also “offer concrete support with military in the region within the next few hours”. President Macron and President Sebastián Piñera of Chile said that they also had reached an agreement in principle with the countries of the Amazon basin for a long-term program of forest protection and reforestation of cleared lands. The leaders said more details might be presented next month at the United Nations General Assembly.

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