Amazon is in danger, and so is Earth!
The Amazon rainforest is burning for almost three weeks now. The largest tropical rainforest in the world, Amazon produces approximately 20 percent of the oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere and is called the “lungs of the planet”. The massive fire is alarming as it not only threatens the rich biodiversity of the forest but also threatens the atmosphere due to the release of massive amounts of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
What’s the damage
According to the World Meteorological Organisation, the fires engulfed across a range of states in Brazil, impacting populated areas in the north, such as the states of Rondônia and Acre, blocking sunlight and enveloping the region in smoke. The smoke has spread thousands of miles to the Atlantic coast and Sao Paulo. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has registered 72,843 cases of fire from January this year. The institute notes that cases of forest fires in the region have doubled since 2013, and increased by 84 per cent compared to the same period last year.
The fires were apparently so huge that they were visible from space as 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.
Forest fire is not an extraordinary phenomenon in Amazon. The rainforest experiences regular and widespread fires at this time of the year due to the dry season. But environmentalists across the world believe that this disaster is man-made. Farmers and miners light fires on purpose for deforestation and clear the land for grazing of cattle and mining.
The Amazon is not just ‘lungs of the planet’ but also home to many tribes, communities, flora, fauna and species. The burning of forests would also add to carbon emissions. Burning the Amazon doesn’t just prevent the forest from absorbing that carbon in the future—it releases the carbon that the burned forest had been storing for decades. Many scientists suggest that further deforestation could lead to Amazon’s transformation from the world’s largest rainforest to a savanna, which would reverse the region’s ecology.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is now under pressure to check this man-made catastrophe. The Brazilian government has already sent army to combat fire, but the damage has been done. If not checked in future, the rampant deforestation of the Amazon would affect the Earth’s atmosphere and ecology.
Did you know
The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Covering over 5.5 million square kilometres, it’s so big that the UK and Ireland would fit into it 17 times! It is home to around 40,000 plant species, 1,300 bird species, 3,000 types of fish, 430 mammals and a whopping 2.5 million different insects. Wow!