A Record Number Of Wildfires Are Now Burning In The Amazon Rainforest

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, day has become night due to the enormous amount of smoke coming from wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest, according to the Washington Post:

“‘The smoke didn’t come from fires in the state of Sao Paulo, but from very dense and wide fires that have been happening for several days in [the state of] Rondonia and Bolivia,’ Josélia Pegorim, a meteorologist with Climatempo, said in an interview with Globo. ‘The cold front changed direction and its winds transported the smoke to Sao Paulo.

The news highlighted the number of forest fires in Brazil, which rose by more than 80 percent this year, according to data released this week by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

The wildfires in the Amazonian rainforest have reached a record level, and fire is consuming at least three football fields a minute:

As you might expect, the major causes of the fires in the rainforest are climate change, and deforestation.

Another difference this year, EcoWatch notes, is that Brazil’s president doesn’t seem to care what’s happening:

“The uptick in the total number of fires this year also coincides with the election of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has promised to open more of the Amazon to mining and farming. While fires are common during the dry season, they can also be started illegally to clear land for cattle, and the INPE said the high number of fires this year could not be blamed exclusively on the climate.

“But Bolsonaro rejected the idea that his policies could be to blame. He argued that this was the time of year called the queimada, when farmers clear their land with fire.”

Since Thursday, according to Brazil’s space research center INPE, 9,507 new forest fires have begun burning, and that threatens the entire Amazon basin, which scientists say is absolutely essential to countering global warming.

Alberto Setzer, a researcher at INPE, told reporters:

“This central Brazil and south of the Amazon Rainforest region has been undergoing a prolonged drought. And there are some places where there has not fallen a drop of rain for three months.”

Environmentalists also note that many of the fires were lit deliberately by those who are eager to clear cut the forest for financial gain:

“Environmental organizations and researchers say the wildfires blazing in the Brazilian rainforest were set by cattle ranchers and loggers who want to clear and utilize the land, emboldened by the country’s pro-business president.
“‘The vast majority of these fires are human-lit,’ said Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organization Amazon Watch. He added that even during dry seasons, the Amazon — a humid rainforest — doesn’t catch on fire easily, unlike the dry bushland in California or Australia.
“Farmers and ranchers have long used fire to clear land, said Poirier, and are likely behind the unusually large number fires burning in the Amazon today.”
The fires are so widespread this year that satellite images clearly show the massive clouds of smoke as they waft across what remains of the rainforest and float into major cities, making day appear to be night.
On a map of Brazil, the fires appear to be consuming most of the nation:

Can anything be done to prevent such fires in the future? Perhaps, but that seems unlikely with the current Brazilian government pretending that nothing is wrong.

Meanwhile, thousands of acres burn and global climate change gets worse as each tree is turned to cinders.


Featured Image Via YouTube Screenshot


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Andrew Bradford

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