If you didn’t know, a large portion of the Amazon rainforest has been on fire, for weeks. By the time you finish reading this article, a forest area equivalent to 3 Soccer stadiums would be burnt to the ground.
For the past couple of weeks, the Amazon encountered at least 10,000 instances of forest fires. Ecologists and activists have lamented the occurrence of the ravaging fires as this is a serious backfire in the fight against climate change.
Comparing to last year’s 40,000, we have already recorded 75,000 fires in 2019. The extent of the fire was so deadly that the smoke of the fire could be seen from space. The burnt forest looked like a patch of black grazed land. The threat was so imminent that the Amazonas district in Brazil was declared in a state of emergency.
Deemed as the lungs of our planet, the dense forests of Amazon has been very critical in maintaining our Carbon-di-oxide levels in check. It balances out the greenhouse gas by providing 20% of the world’s oxygen via photosynthesis.
Cause of the fire and who’s to blame?
Usually, the period between July to October is the dry season and during this time wild forest fire is common on account of natural factors like lightning strikes. Apart from that farmers and locals also burn forests to make way for industrial projects and Agricultural purposes.
This time though, the blame goes to the controversial Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who had pretty much made it clear after being elected that he would refrain from putting any effort in saving the 2.1 million square mile stretch of dense tropical forest, most of it which fall under Brazil.
Instead of prioritizing the protection of the Amazon, he plans on making way for development projects like a highway and hydroelectric dam amidst the Amazon basin. Also, it might be possible that this raging forest fire is his dirty work and is a ploy to make leeway to various multinational developmental projects.
Earlier in May, in a detrimental move that encourages deforestation, Bolsonaro lowered fines for illegal timber and mining in the area, only leading to the rise in shady and unscrupulous activities in the area.
In July, Greenpeace deemed Bolsonaro and his government a “threat to the climate equilibrium” and warned that Brazil will have to pay a “heavy cost“ in the long run for the policies that he seeks to implement.
Environmental activists and organizations warn that at this rate, if the Amazon reaches a point of no return, the rainforest could be replaced by a dry savannah. This would mess up the ecosystem making it inhabitable for much of its wildlife. If this happens, instead of being a source of oxygen, it could start emitting carbon — accelerating the climate change by decades.