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The Burning Question of Amazon Fires

Jair Bolsonaro’s denial of climate crisis and assault on indigenous communities intensifies the calamity.


Dangerous plumes of smoke rise from sections of the vast Amazon rainforest, a 5.5 million square kilometre (km2) carbon sink. During the worst of the fires, the smoke had covered the sky of Brazil’s eastern seaboard, where the country’s largest population lives. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) says that there has been an 84% increase in the number of fires compared to 2018, with more than 74,000 fires tearing through one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. Fires are not uncommon, since these occur regularly in the dry season. But this year’s fires are extreme, which is why there has been global concern about them.

Scientists at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) say that the fires this year have been most devastating in the 10 Amazon municipalities, which have seen the most deforestation. The drought of 2016 certainly plays some role in the fires, but—IPAM scientists argue—the hypothesis that these fires are caused by drought or by any natural cycles “must be rejected.” Rather, IPAM notes, “despite being the dry season, moisture levels in the Amazon are currently above average compared to the last three years.” Based on the work of IPAM and the Deforestation Alert System, the scientists point out that “the only plausible explanation is that deforestation is fanning the flames.”

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Updated On : 11th Sep, 2019


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