Earth’s burning lungs: On Amazon’s rainforest fire

Amazon rainforest fire

Context:

  • Amazon rainforest has seen a considerable spike in the number of fires in 2019.
  • More than 80000 fires have been recorded in this year which amounts to an increase of over 85 per cent compared to the year 2018 as reported by the national institute of space research, Brazil.
  • It is the highest number of fires since 2013. Roughly an area equivalent to a football field is being ravaged by the fire every minute. 
  • The fire, for the most part, is ablaze in Brazil but Bolivia has also been impacted by the blaze.

Where is the Amazon Rainforest located?

  • Amazon rainforest is located in the continent of South America. It extends to 8 countries, namely Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and French Guiana. 
  • Extending to an area of 1.4 billion acres, around 60 per cent of the rainforest lies in Brazil.

The map above shows the current extent of the Amazon.

The vital significance of Amazon Rainforest: 

  • The rainforest has abundant flora and fauna. It constitutes half of all of the tropical forests on the planet.
  • Tropical forests play a significant role in controlling the greenhouse effect.
  • The amazon rainforest holds 10% of world’s biodiversity which means one in every ten species known to humans is found in this region.
  • It is home to 2000 birds, 2.5 million insect species and thousands of plants and trees.
  • Amazon rainforests are also called as the ‘Lungs of the Planet’ due to their contribution to the total global oxygen. Experts believe that around 10 per cent of the total global oxygen is produced by the rainforest.

What causes a fire?

  • Fires are not very uncommon in the amazon rainforest at this time of the year owing to the dry season. The worrying fact is the blaze has been a result of deliberate attempts of deforestation this year.
  • The deforestations are aimed at creating grazing grounds for the cattle. The process has been untamed under the present government of President Bolsonaro.
  • Is the number of fires an appropriate measure of destruction?
  • The discourse surrounding the fire is based on the number of fires which has spiked up dramatically since the last year. The numbers of fire, however, are independent of the size of the land they clear.
  • The data on the burned area is not clear yet. A more appropriate analysis of the fire can be done on the basis of the volume of carbon dioxide that has been released by the fires.

The political outcry:

  • The irresponsibility on the part of President Bolsonaro has been widely decried over by various countries. The Brazilian government has also refused to accept the aid of 20 million US dollar by the G-7 countries.
  • Notably, President Bolsonaro has been reported to advocate the loosening of environment protection restrictions. In his view, protecting the forests is hampering the economic development of Brazil.
  • Under severe international pressure, President Bolsonaro has assigned 44,000 military personnel to aid the firefighting.

Conclusion: 

  • The fire in the amazon rainforest is indeed a grave injury to the global climate. The forwardness of various national heads to assist in firefighting is appreciable. To bend the sceptic President of Brazil will only bend to crumbling international pressure as evidenced by the recent move. The rainforest, although lies for the most part in Brazil, is of global importance. Thus, the new anti-protectionist policies of the Brazilian government are deeply concerning. 
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