Amazon Rainforest on fire

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The Amazon River Valley is home to the largest tropical rainforest on Earth. This is roughly the size of forty-eight adjacent United States and it covers almost 40 percent of the South American continent. The Amazon rainforest covers parts of eight South American countries such as Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname, and French Guiana.

The Amazon is made up of a mosaic of ecosystems and types of vegetation that includes rain forests, seasonal forests, deciduous forests, flooded forests and savannas. The Amazon Basin is drained by the Amazon River, the largest river in the world in terms of discharge, and the second longest river in the world after the Nile. The river consists of more than 1,100 tributaries, 17 of which have more than 1000 miles, and two of which (Black and Madeira) are larger, in terms of volume, than the Congo River (formerly Zaire). The river system is the forest’s lifeline and its history plays an important role in the development of its tropical forests.

The Amazon rainforest is home to 20 million indigenous people and holds the largest concentration of biodiversity on the planet which is around 30 percent of wildlife on earth. Also Amazon forest holds the secret for treating some of the most deadly diseases. That produces 20 percent oxygen on Earth. It holds up to 140 billion metric tons of carbon. And at this time, it is burning.

Lungs of earth is on fire

Crossing 550 million hectares (one hectare roughly the size of two football fields), more than 84,000 fires have started in the Amazon this year to date, a surge of 85 percent from the previous year, according to the National Institute for Space Research Brazil (INPE). According to NASA’s MODIS and VIIRS, alone in the month of august around 26000 fires has been reported. Fires are a natural part of many ecosystems, but not in the Amazon, where they are almost completely human-caused phenomena. Farmers use slash-and-burn tactics to clear forest areas for crops. Illegal loggers and miners burn to cover their tracks. In some cases, they lit fires to drive the native people from their land.

Fire in the Amazon has now been burning for more than a month. Their smoke has spread throughout Brazil and covered the largest cities in the country. Residents post photos of fire, dark soot, and black water on social media.

Rondonia has approx 6500 fires burning this year in it, according to the Brazilian National Space Research Institute (INPE). NASA says the state has become one of the most bare countries in the Amazon. Brazil had 85% more fires burning than it is today compared to last year same duration. Up to 80,626 across the country.

When the pace of land clearing reaches one-half of a football field per minute, statistics for damage to the forest mimic the incomprehensible mystery of its lost beauty and many analysts worry that the tipping point is approaching.

The more forest is cut down, the less moisture is retained under the canopy, and the drier the land. The drier the land, the more fire prone. The more fires, the less forest. The self-satisfaction cycle has begun. The question is when it becomes irreversible.

It’s hard to see claims about future disasters as alarmists, when you see a ceiling that is made invisible by smoke, flames march across the plains like lava, and hear uninterested taxi drivers tell you that they’ve never seen it that bad. The apocalyptic future is here, and it’s impatient.

Greenpeace Brazil recently released a dramatic photo of a rainforest fire that is currently burning in the Brazilian Amazon.

CANDEIRAS DO JAMARI, RONDÔNIA, BRAZIL: Aerial view of a large burned area in the city of Candeiras do Jamari in the state of Rondônia.

(Photo: Victor Moriyama / Greenpeace), Amazon Burning Overflight)

The picture shows farmland, meadows, and forests in the states of Rondônia, Mato Grosso, and Pará burning. Some fires seem to burn forests with well-developed canopy structures, indicating that forests that are carbon-dense and biodiversity is being directly affected by fires. Greenpeace said its own spatial analysis showed that 15,749 of the 23,006 hot spots recorded in the Amazon in the first 20 days of the month were in forested areas in 2017. A quarter of the hot spots listed last week occurred in conservation areas or officially recognized customary areas, according to that group.

These conclusions provide further evidence that fires were deliberately set for forest clearing purposes. Last week, research published by IPAM Amazônia, a Brazilian research group, revealed that the 10 Amazon cities that had the most fire outbreaks this year were those with the highest rates of deforestation.


Brazilian government data shows that deforestation in the Amazon rose 57 percent until the end of July. Forest clearance surged in July, when more than 2,092 square kilometers – an area more than 35 times the size of Manhattan – were cut down. It was the highest month of deforestation in more than 12 years.

After the data was released, Bolsonaro fired the head of Brazil’s space agency, INPE, and demanded the right to “review” deforestation data before it was published, raising concerns that his administration would manipulate the data. INPE has not published deforestation data since then.

There were 17,351 MODIS fire alerts reported in the week of August 19, 2019. This was High compared to the same week in previous years.
Unusual fire history analyses use MODIS fires data only for 2001 to present.

President Jair Bolsonaro, after being scolded, was called a liar, and threatened with trade sanctions by several G7 leaders, stated that he would send 43,000 troops to fight the Amazon fires, but there were still no signs of an increased military presence. In his recent speech he said that Amazon should be used to enrich Brazilians. The reason for the fire was debated, but not convincing from this height. Bolsonaro said that they were part of the usual annual arson, this dry season. But environmentalist, many of whom are scientists, have noticed government policies to encourage deforestation. As par them gov. have encouraged land clearing that helped spark fire rage, and gave farmers permission to burn.

Soaring deforestation coupled with smoke from fires has sparked global outrage, including street protests, calls to boycott Brazilian companies and products, and condemnation from world leaders. European Union also has threatened to cancel a major trade agreement on this issue.

Hours after leaders from some of the world’s richest countries pledged more than $ 22 million to help fight fires in the Amazon rainforest, the Brazilian government angrily rejected the offer, which basically told other countries to think about their own businesses. Earlier, Brazilian ministers said G7 money was not needed and they accused foreign powers of wanting Amazon control.

A video taken by CNN during a fly over on Friday (August 23) we can see the consequences of the Bolsonaro government’s anti-environmental agenda: large areas of deforested forest, surrounded by smoke, show the progress of industrial agriculture into the forest. In contrast to what the Bolsonaro government claimed, the wave of fire that struck the Amazon was associated with increased deforestation in the region.

The fires are discharging large amounts of smoke and carbon to atmosphere.

Smoke clouds from the fire have spread throughout the Amazon region and beyond. According to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (Cams), part of the European Union Earth observation program, smoke has spread to the Atlantic coast. Fire has released a large amount of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of 228 megatons so far this year, according to Cams, the highest since 2010. 

They also emit carbon monoxide – a gas that is released when wood is burned and does not have much access to oxygen. Maps of cams show this carbon monoxide – a pollutant that is toxic at high levels – carried outside the coastline of South America.

Why do we need Amazon?

  • Filtering and reprocessing dangerous carbon dioxide output in the world – What forests take from the air, they can also give back. When forests burn, tree carbon material is released in the form of CO2, which pollutes the atmosphere, and which amounts are already excessive.
  • Importance of the Amazon rainforest for local and global climate – Tropical forests and timber forests exchange a lot of water and energy for the atmosphere and are considered important in controlling local and regional climate. Water released by plants into the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration of plants and into the oceans by rivers, influences the world’s climate and the circulation of ocean currents. This serves as a feedback mechanism, because the process also supports the regional climate on which it rests.
  • Amazon rainforest can cure you – The roots of natural medicine. Indigenous peoples have perfected the use of chemical compounds found in plants and animals. Knowledge about the use of this plant is usually held by a shaman, who passes on this tradition to an apprentice, a process that has lasted for centuries and which is an integral part of people’s identities. With the fast-moving rainforest, the continuity of this knowledge for the benefit of future generations is under threat.
  • Potential for untapped Amazon plants – Scientists believe that less than half of 1% of flowering plant species have been studied in detail for their medicinal potential. Many anti-cancer drugs come from rainforest plants. Compounds from rainforest plants are used in medicine to treat high blood pressure, glaucoma, tuberculosis, and other health problems. As the Amazon rainforest biome slowly shrinks in size, so does the wealth of wildlife found in its forests, along with the potential use of plants and animals that have yet to be discovered.

The Amazon basin, which holds about three million species of plants and animals, and twenty million indigenous people is crucial to regulating global warming, with its forests absorbing millions of tons of carbon every year.

The Amazon is often referred to as the planet’s lungs, producing 20% of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is considered vital in slowing global warming, and it is home to uncountable species of fauna and flora. Roughly half the size of the United States, it is the largest rainforest on the planet. But when trees are cut or burned, the carbon they store is released into the atmosphere and the capacity of the rainforest to absorb carbon decreases, resulting into a catastrophic global warming.

Earth Alliance, a new organization to help address the urgent threats to our planet’s life support systems which is co-founded by Academy Award®-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has launched the Amazon Forest Fund campaign in response to a growing climate crisis and staggering loss of biodiversity threatening the stability of life on Earth. You can also goto Amazon Forest Fund campaign website to make the domain and help to make this planet a better place for our future generation.

Author: Rajesh Kumar

Enchanted by sound of ocean waves, and magic of sun rays I'm a DevOps engineer by profession and nature lover by heart. I love capturing wondrous moments from nature. I hope through my article I will be able to spread awareness for conserving our wildlife and controlling the rapidly changing climate. Together let's take a pledge and restore the pride of our magnificent mother nature.  

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