Fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are reaching unprecedented levels. Scientists have warned that it might cause further serious damage to the already fragile climate.
This is the highest rate of fires burning since Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) started tracking them six years ago. A total of almost 73,000 fires were recorded in Brazil this year so far; over 50 percent of these were in the Amazon region. This is a rise of 80 percent in comparison to the figures from 2018.
Vital to our ecosystem
The Amazon is commonly known as the Earth’s lungs, as it is responsible for generating around 20 percent of the oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere. It plays a crucial role in slowing the effects of global warming. Countless plant species also inhabit the region. At about half the size of the United States, it is hands down the biggest rainforest in the world.
Journalist and environmentalist Shannon Sims tweeted, “Just a little alert to the world: the sky randomly turned dark today in São Paulo, and meteorologists believe it’s smoke from the fires burning *thousands* of kilometers away, in Rondônia or Paraguay. Imagine how much has to be burning to create that much smoke(!)”
Stirring photos and videos showing the massive clouds of smoke have been circling on social media. The smoke has extended right up to São Paulo, over 1,700 miles (around 2,700 km) from the rainforest. Dark clouds of smoke and ash covered the city’s sky the middle of the day.
The INPE says that over one and a half soccer fields (a little more than 10,000 square meters or 107,639 square feet) of the rainforest is being demolished every single minute each day.
Environmentalists who have been fighting to reduce Amazon destruction for quite some time, have said that Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro is responsible for putting the rainforest at such risk. Bolsonaro made campaign promises that would supposedly improve Brazil’s economy by looking into the Amazon’s economic potential, which actually translates to the exploitation of a natural environment that is vital to the functionality of the world’s ecosystem.