Unfortunately, Amazon rainforest in Brazil is witnessing the highest number of fires this year. The country’s space agency reported an 83 percent increase in the same period last year.
According to the National Institute for Space Research, the satellites have detected 72,843 forest fires in the country and 9,507 were spotted in the past week.
Most of these fires happen in the basin of Amazon, which is the home to around three million different plant and animal species and a million indigenous people.
The Lungs of the Planet Are Being Destroyed
The rainforest of Amazon is often referred to as the planet’s lungs as it produces more than 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen and also absorbs planet-warming carbon dioxide.
As seen on the images from the satellites, Brazil’s most northern state, Roraima, is covered in dark smoke whereas the neighbouring Amazonas declared state of emergency.
Acre, which is on the border with Peru, has been on an environmental alert since Friday and the fires have increased in Para and Mato Grosso too.
First, it was thought that the daytime blackout in Sao Paulo on Monday was a result of a smoke from the fires in Amazon; however, according to meteorologists, the smoke is actually coming from fires in Paraguay which is much closer to the city.
Who/What’s to Blame?
Wildfires are not uncommon in dry season; however, they’re also intentionally set by farmers and illegally deforested for the ranching of cattle.
The increase in wildfires has happened since the right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, took office back in January and is known for his anti-environmental policies.
He vowed to develop this region for mining and farming and ignored the international worries over the major increase in deforestation.
When he was asked about the spreading of Amazon rainforest fires, he said it was ‘the time of the year of the burn when farmers use fire to clear land.’
He also added that ‘I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now, I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But, it is the season of the queimada.’
The space agency INPE claims that this huge amount of wildfire can’t be a result of dry season or natural phenomenon only. The researcher from the agency, Alberto Setzer, said that there is nothing out of the normal about the climate or the rainfall this year in the Amazon region.
He explains that though a lot of people often think dry season is the main culprit for the wildfires, it’s not necessarily the case.
He adds that although dry season creates favourable conditions for spreading of fire, starting one is a human work, accidentally or deliberately.
This shocking news has encouraged a worldwide campaign on social media with users sharing photos from the fires titled with hashtag #PrayforAmazonia.