The Amazon is Burning at an Alarming Rate & You Should Be Worried

The Amazon rainforest almost never burns on its own – thanks to the torrential rains, but not anymore.

The world’s largest tropical forest has been burning for the last two weeks at an alarming rate. Satellite data, released by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, shows an 84 percent increase in forest fire as compared to the same time period in 2018.

  • The Amazon Rainforest – called the ‘Lungs of the World’ – produces more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen
  • An area approximately equal to a football pitch is now being cleared every single minute, satellite studies show
  • The eight months of 2019 recorded the most number of forest fires since 2013

Images of fires purportedly devouring sections of the world's largest rainforest have gone viral on Twitter. #PrayforAmazonas was the top trending hashtag in the world on Wednesday, with more than 249,000 tweets.

While it was not possible on Wednesday to measure the size of the area affected by the fire, thick smoke in recent days has blanketed several cities, including Sao Paulo, and caused a commercial flight to be diverted.

THE BUZZ ON TWITTER

However, people took to Twitter to call out media for not covering the forest fire, comparing it to the Notre Dame fire in France that caught the attention of the world.

WHY PEOPLE ARE BLAMING BRAZIL PM BOLSONARO

The alarming forest fires come amid criticism over Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro's environmental policies, which scientists and environmentalists say favour development over conservation.

Earlier this month, the head of Brazil’s space research institute was forced to leave his position after standing up to the president's accusations that deforestation data had been manipulated to tarnish the image of his administration.

"73,000 " - Forest fires were recorded in Brazil in the first eight months of the year.

The highest number for any year since 2013. Most were in the Amazon.

The states that have been most affected by fires this year are Mato Grosso, Para and Amazonas – all in the Amazon region – accounting for 41.7 percent of all fires.

"It is very difficult to have natural fires in the Amazon; it happens but the majority come from the hand of humans," said Paulo Moutinho, co-founder of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute.

BOLSONARO’S DEFENCE

Bolsonaro has hit back saying "criminal action by those NGOs, to call attention against me, against the Brazilian government" following funding cuts may be the reason for the forest fires.

"“Maybe – I am not affirming it – these (NGO people) are carrying out some criminal actions to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil.”" - Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian President

When asked if he had evidence, the president did not provide any.

"There is a war going on in the world against Brazil, an information war," Bolsonaro said.

(With inputs from AP)

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