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“The lungs of the Planet” is burning; Amazon rainforest on fire

Brasilia: The Amazon is being burnt as fire rage across parts of the rainforest, burning at the highest rate since 2013, when the nation’s space research centre first began tracking fires there.

Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and spans eight countries and covers 40% of South America. More than 30 million people survive in the Amazon, which is also home to large numbers of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles.

The Amazon forest is often called “the planet’s lungs” which produces about 20% of earth’s oxygen.

Evidence of the fires also comes by way of a map created by the European Union’s satellite program, Copernicus, that shows smoke from the fires spreading all along Brazil to the east Atlantic coast. The smoke has covered nearly half of the country and has begun to spill into neighbouring Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay.

NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellites tracked actively burning fires across South America and captured images of smoke in the last week.

The cause of the fire is believed to have happened due to the long-used fire by the farmers and cattle ranchers to clear land and readily use it.

The Amazon rainforest acts as an enormous carbon sink, storing up to an estimated 100 years worth of carbon emissions produced by humans, and is seen as vital to slowing the pace of global warming. Deforestation will not help to sustain oxygen if it continues to a large extent. Excessive carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to the warming of the planet.

The Amazon remains a net source of oxygen today-despite the fact that about 20% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions are caused by deforestation. Before the recent fires, the Amazon released up to 0.5 billion metric tons of carbon per year due to deforestation, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) spotted more than 9,500 new forest fires in Brazil since August 15 alone, while atmospheric monitoring agencies have tracked smoke from the Amazon region drifting thousands of kilometres across the Latin American giant to the Atlantic coast and Sao Paulo, briefly turning daytime in Brazil’s biggest city to night on Monday.

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