The fire caused mostly due to the slash-burning and farming by the locals, has become so big that the fumes can be seen from space.
Situated in the South American continent, ‘Amazon’ is the largest rainforest in the world. The forest considered the lungs of the world is on fire from the past few weeks. The forest is being destroyed by the fire at an alarming rate and this has become a global concern for the environmentalists and governments. The fire caused mostly due to the slash-burning and farming of the locals has grown so big that the fumes can be seen from space.
NASA had reported that the smoke from the burning Amazon forest can be seen from space and released pictures of the same. The issue also attracted the attention of global media and the policies of the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro were called anti-environmental. According to the latest media updates, the president, due to the global pressure has finally deployed army troops to get rid of the disastrous fire.
Here’s all that you need to know about the Amazon forest fire:
Whereabouts of the Amazon fire
Amazon rainforest covers a major part of the South American continent and is spread over many countries. The biggest chunk of the forest is located in the biggest South American country Brazil. The fire started in the Amazonian rainforests and have impacted area of the north which has high population density.
The smoke from the forest fire blocked sunlight in areas such as Rondônia and Acre. According to the World Meteorological Organization, even the far lying areas like the Atlantic coast and São Paulo, which are thousands of miles away have been impacted by the smoke.
As much as 72,843 cases of fire have happened in 2019 alone out of which more than 9,500 have happened over the past few days as reported by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
How such a huge fire started?
According to the article, published in the local weekly ‘Brasil de fato’, the anti-environment policies of Bolsonaro have motivated the farmers to take devastating actions. The farmers organised a ‘fire day’ along the highway BR-163. The highway passes through the heart of the rainforest. A report of local newspaper ‘Folha do Progresso’ was quoted by the weekly Brasil de fato mentioning that the local farmers have set ablaze sections of the rainforest recently to attract the government’s attention.
Earlier, NASA released images on August 11 showing the wide-spread fire and reported that its satellites had detected heightened fire activity in July and August.
Why is it a matter of concern?
The Amazon rainforest alone contributes to approximately 20 per cent of the Oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere. Also, it is home to rich and diverse flora and fauna along with being home to many indigenous communities who have lived in the forest for ages. Such disasters threaten their survivability. Also, since the Amazon is a rich mineral-deposit region, it attracts foreign corporation and governments with economic interests who end up exploiting the resources.
The destruction of the forest can lead to a complete change in the ecology of the region as the forest consumes almost all the carbon produced by the people of the continent. According to a National Geographic report, the rainforest helps in maintaining the water cycle not only on a regional scale but on a global scale.
What environmental changes did Bolsonaro make in recent times?
The Brazillian law has protected the rainforest for a long time and did not allow any exploitation of the resources held within it. According to Brazil’s Forest Code of 1965, farmers could purchase land in the rainforest but can cultivate only 20% of it. It was in the year 1988 that a new constitution gave indigenous population legal ownership of their land and also the right to reject any development of their land. In 2012, the laws related to the forest were revised for restoring the deforested area. In 2018, the Supreme Court of Brazil upheld these changes.
The new president Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January 2019, during his election campaign has promised that his government would allow business in the Amazonian region. Notably, the rainforest has large reserves of gold and other minerals. According to a report of the Washington Post, after his victory in the elections, the President stated that “Just because a handful of Indians wants to conserve it, Brazil should not sit on its natural resources.”
Government’s stance over the widespread fire
INPE scientist Ricardo Galvao was fired for publishing agency data that showed the accelerated rate of deforestation. President Bolsonaro dismissed the INPE findings and called the figures in the report a lie. He also accused the INPE fro presentation of manipulated Images. The Al Jazeera English mentioned Bolsonaro in a report on the same where he was quoted as stating that ‘Such reports are far away from the truth and do not match the actual condition. This can do great damage to the image of Brazil’. The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) defended their findings.
The reaction of the Global community:
Countries like Germany and Norway, who were funding to protect the rainforest, have suspended all such efforts. Now, these countries are not providing money to the programs which aimed to stop deforestation in the Amazon. Also, the blame goes on the Brazilian government as they have been accused of doing nothing to protect the forests.