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#PrayForAmazon: Record number burning in Brazil rainforest, could have global consequences

By Shreya
|

Brasilia, Aug 22: The Amazon Rainforest, one of the wettest places on Earth, is on fire.

Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, a federal agency monitoring deforestation and wildfires, said the country has seen a record number of wildfires this year, counting 74,155 as of Tuesday, an 84 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

Wildfires raging across Amazon forest. Image credit: PTI

Reportedly, 40,136 fires burned in the region last year. The second-worst year was 2016, with 68,484 fires.

This has inspired a #prayforamazonia social media campaign to bring awareness to the blazes destroying the rainforest.

Wildfires raging across Amazon rainforest; Brazil records 83 per cent increase in forest fires

    The Amazon rain forest has been burning for weeks

    Reportedly, over 700,000 tweets with the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia have been sent in the past 30 days, amid a record number of forest fires in the Amazon this year.

    Why is the Amazon on fire?

    The Amazon, referred to as the planet's lungs, producing 20 per cent of the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. The rainforest is home to about three million species of plants and animals and one million indigenous people.

    The onset of the dry season, is the area's driest months, with "activity" peaking by early September and stopping by mid-November, according to NASA. The fires are largely linked to deforestation.

    Deforestation to be blamed

    Deforestation is a particular concern in tropical rain forests because these forests are home to much of the world's biodiversity.

    The main cause of deforestation is agriculture. We're losing 18.7 million acres of forests annually, equivalent to 27 soccer fields every minute.

    In the Amazon around 17 per cent of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching, according to WWF.

    Deforestation in this region is particularly rampant near more populated areas, roads and rivers, but even remote areas have been encroached upon when valuable mahogany, gold, and oil are discovered.

    What are the global consequences?

    Protecting the Amazon is one of the most effective ways to mitigate the effect of climate change. The loss of the Amazon via deforestation means carbon emissions are released while a once-massive carbon sink is destroyed.

    Furthermore, fires are burning in the Amazon rain forest at one of the fastest paces in years and if this continuous, the loss of forest would be felt on a global scale.

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