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The Amazon Rainforest is Burning and the Culprit May Surprise You

Is climate change the only suspect in this tragedy?

Fires have raged in the Amazon rainforest since the August 10th, farmer-coordinated “day of fire,” encouraged by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. 

President Bolsonaro’s far-right politics have advocated for increased industry production in farming, logging, and mining. In turn, his administration has caused increased deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Estimates show that over three football fields of forest are lost every minute. 

Image by Wikimedia Commons

Because of it’s moist climate, the Amazon rainforest has historically been relatively fire-resistant. However, drought and human activities–such as land clearing, have led to an increase in wildfires. The greatest cause of land-clearing in the Amazon is cattle-farming. 

However, unlike the Australian bushfires, many of the fires currently burning through the Amazon are human-caused.

Considering that the Amazon rainforest is known as the “lungs of the earth” this intentional land clearing is worrisome not only for Brazil, but for the entire world.

The Amazon rainforest creates 20% of the world’s oxygen and contains 1/5 of the planet’s stored carbon. 

The fires are not only decreasing the Amazon’s carbon sequestration capabilities, but also emitting carbon into the atmosphere. Thus, the fires will create a positive feedback loop where the fires increase climate change, which increases drought, which increases fires, which increases climate change. Wash, rinse, repeat. 

If this sounds like an apocalyptic scenario to you, then you’re getting the point. 

Want to help the Amazon (and the future of our shared planet)? Learn how here.

Image by Earth Observatory // Nasa

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