Amazon wildfire: ‘Lungs of the planet’ is burning at record rate

The Amazon forest that is known as lungs of the planet is engulfed in fire at record rate. More than 9,500 new wildfire have been started across Brazil since August 15. As a result, the smoke from the raging fire has turned day into night in Sao Paulo. This could affect the fight against climate change hugely, scientists warn. The largest state in Brazil, Amazonas, declared a state of emergency on Monday, the report says.

Researchers say the fire is the highest of all time. Scientists have recorded more than 74,000 fires in Brazil this year, which is close to double of 2018’s fire, which was 40,000. The wildfire outpour indicates 83 percent rise over the same period of 2018, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research reported, according to The Science Alert.

The Amazon forest plays vital role in maintaining carbon-dioxide, as it takes in carbon dioxide, storing it in soils and producing oxygen. The forest is spread across 2.1 million square miles. The report says that it produces 20 percent of the oxygen in our planet's atmosphere. That is why it is widely known as "lungs of the planet".

Wildfire in the forest is natural in dry season (from July to October) due to lightning strikes. Moreover, farmers and loggers also intentionally set fire to clear swaths of the Amazon for industrial or agricultural use, the report says.

The smoke of the fire is so huge and thick that it is affecting the city that is 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometres) away. On Monday (19 August), people in Sao Paulo too to Twitter to talk about the effect of the fire. They say the sky had gone dark between 3 and 4 pm local time.

The Amazon forest has shrunk by 519 square miles (1,345 square kilometres), which is, according to the report, more than twice the area of Tokyo. Deforestation increased to 39 percent in July as compared to last year.

However, for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro protecting the rainforest is not one of his top priorities as he focuses more on development projects like a highway and hydroelectric dam in the Amazon.

The president pointed out the fact when Reuters reporters asked Bolsonaro about the uncontrolled fire. He said that it's a time of year when farmers purposefully use fire to clear land – a seasonal cycle called "queimada."

"I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada,” Bolsonaro told the reporter.