Amazon fires could dramatically speed up climate change turning the rainforest from the planet’s lungs into a silent killer, experts fear
THE devastating fires in the Amazon rainforest could dramatically speed up climate change, experts fear.
More than 70,000 fires have been recorded so far this year in the rainforest and scientists are warning of a doomsday scenario.
The Amazon produces more than 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen and if that is threatened it would create a “dieback” process where the rainforest spews carbon into the atmosphere, speeding up climate change.
This process speeds up the loss of trees, changing the landscape – something that could start with the some of the Amazon’s destruction.
If 20 per cent of Brazil’s rainforest perished it could exacerbate this process in such a way which would dry trees, leaving them unable to absorb as much carbon making it more flammable and likely to spread fires, researchers from three British universities wrote in The Conversation.
In 2017, the Rainforest Trust warned of the Amazon devolving into a barren landscape that would fail to release oxygen and cause the release of 140billion tonnes of stored carbon into the atmosphere.
Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, 64, claims conservationists want to make him look bad after they blasted him for encouraging loggers and farmers to clear the jungle for cattle ranching.
He told a steel industry congress in Brasilia: “On the question of burning in the Amazon, which in my opinion may have been initiated by NGOs because they lost money, what is the intention? To bring problems to Brazil.”
In a Facebook live broadcast on Thursday he said that countries that give money to preserve the Amazon rainforest do not do it for charity, but to “interfere with our sovereignty”.
Onyx Lorenzoni, the president’s chief of staff, accused European countries of exaggerating environmental problems in Brazil in order to disrupt its commercial interests.
According to Brazilian news website globo.com, Lorenzoni said: “There is deforestation in Brazil, yes, but not at the rate and level that they say.”
It comes after French President Emmanuel Macron said the Amazon fires are an international crisis and that G-7 leaders should hold an urgent meeting about them at their summit in France this weekend.
Local reports say there was a sharp spike in deforestation in July which was then followed up by extensive burning in August.
Some farmers are said to have organised “fire days” in a bid to take advantage of weaker legislation by the authorities.
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The record number of fires were responsible for causing a daytime blackout in Sao Paulo, the country’s largest city, on Monday.
Thick smoke plunged the city into darkness at around 3pm for around an hour.
Satellite images show smoke from the Amazon reaching across the Latin American continent to the Atlantic coast and Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Importance of Amazon
The Amazon forest is referred to as “the lungs of the planet”.
It produces 20 per cent of world’s oxygen.
Brazil contains about 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest.
The rainforest also contains 10 per cent of the world’s biodiversity.
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