9 things you should teach your kids about the Amazon rainforest fire

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Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has already hit a record of a burning accelerated rate of fire raging across parts of the region for three weeks now, without windows yet to ceasing.

It has been three weeks now since the Amazon forest fire started raging at a large scale of the region. The Amazon is often referred to as the “lungs” of the Earth because of its vast forest release oxygen and store carbon dioxide. Whatever is happening to date will only cost our planet an equally vast heat-trapping gas that is a major cause of global warming.

Scientists warn that this phenomenon is a huge devastating blow to the global fight against climate change. Being home to about three million species of fauna and flora and one million indigenous people, the Amazon is the largest forest on the planet that is roughly half the size of the United States. It is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.

1. What is the Amazon forest fire raging now in Brazil?

Over the last three weeks, Brazil is tragically experiencing a widely raging Amazon forest fire that has hit the highest rate this year since 2013, with 72, 843 fires detected so far by the country’s space research center, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The surge marks an 83% increase compared with the same period last year, with more than half in the Amazon region is by now distraught.

Recently this week, the extent of the fire further reached the country’s largest city, Sao Paolo, made the city plunged into darkness in the middle of the afternoon due to thick and extensive smoke, causing not only air pollution but a daytime blackout in the city. Smoke from the expansive flames from different boundaries of Amazon forest has now been captured as well from space via both satellites of NASA and NOAA.

“People are scared. The hospitals are full of people with respiratory diseases,” shared Ivaneide Bandeira Cardozo, the environmental organization Kaninde’s coordinator, witnessing how the fires envelop around the cities and municipalities and fill the streets with smoke. “It’s a thousand times worse than in other years.”

2. How did the Amazon forest fire start?

While there are four seasons occur at the south of the globe, the majority of Brazil experiences only wet and dry seasons annually. Wildfires are not so uncommon occurrences during the dry season in Brazil. Perhaps, this year has been worse than normal due to intense heat and severe drought. However, environmentalists from different parts of the world point out that rather wildfires are the intentional land clearing attempts undertaken by loggers and farmers for cattle ranching and the deliberate efforts to illegally deforest land even bolstered by the pro-business-and-anti-environment policies under the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

3. Why fires are raging on such a large scale?

Based on Andrew Freedman’s reports for the Washington Post, the number of fires recorded in 2019 hugely surpasses the 67,790 seen at this period in 2016, when a strong El Niño event created severe drought conditions in the area. Scientists and environmentalist share views that the Amazon forest fire now is only a consequence of the recent aggravation in deforestation across the region.

According to Alberto Setzer, an INPE researcher, in an interview with Reuters, the pervasive fires cannot be attributed to the dry season or natural phenomena alone. “The dry season creates the favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately of by accident,” said Setzer. Furthermore, the INPE researcher even estimated that 99% of the fires are a result of human activity.

4. Why the Amazon is often referred to as the “lungs of the planet”?

The Amazon is the largest tropical forest in the world that it covers over 5.5 million square kilometers. It is found in South America and is spanning across Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.

Approximately 400-500 indigenous Amerindian tribes consider the Amazon forest their home. It has an exceptionally rich ecosystem, sheltering 40,000 plant species, 1,300 bird species, 3,000 types of fish, 430 mammals, and a massive 2.5 million different insects. Amazing, isn’t it!

Its rich vegetation takes carbon dioxide out of the air, and in turn, releases oxygen back in. Considering that 20% of the world’s oxygen comes from and is produced by the Amazon, it is referred to as “the lungs of the Earth.”

5. What now is at stake due to the fires raging extensively at the Amazon?

More than half of Brazil is being covered by the fire ravaging through the Amazon forest based on Google’s alert system. Experts have warned that while the pace of deforestation increases, the Amazon is now being pushed closer to a “tipping point” past that it will not be able to recover.

Earlier this August, the United Nations report has warned of the must-end to types of unobstructed exploitation of the environment in order to avert catastrophic global warming. The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by the leading U. N. body researcher, says that “climate change has already affected food security due to warming, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some extreme events.” This was furthered by co-author Panmao Zhai at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, saying that “in general, climate change will cause decline yields, increased prices, reduced nutrient levels and disruptions in supply chains for food,” as reported by the HuffPost.

By the INPE, satellite images revealed that 9,507 new forest fires have burned in the region since Thursday. After over three weeks of savage blazes, the Amazon forest fire was declared as a state of [climate] emergency. Most of the recent blazes were tracked down the Amazon basin, a particular area at the region seen as vital to countering planetary warming.

6. Why is the Bolsonaro government being criticized over the Amazon crisis?

According to data from the University of Maryland, as stated in the report of The New York Times’ Alexandira Symonds, the world lost 12 million hectares of tree cover, including 3.6 million hectares of primary forest. This establishes why expansive deforestation is always a cause for concern.

In his presidential campaign last year, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro declared an understatement against the country’s vast protected lands—the Amazon forest— for he regarded these as an obstacle to economic growth; and that during the campaign, he promised the Brazilian people of opening the forest up to commercialize and pro-business policies.

Up into his term in just less than a year now, Bolsonaro’s strong economic and anti-environmental policies are believed to drive the Amazon crisis that the Brazilian people and the world is suffering from now.

7. How does the international community respond to this global alert?

A significant number of local and international environmental organizations is in the frontline of speaking out against Bolsonaro leadership, pointing him out as the controlling hands behind this aggravating disaster in the Amazon. Many believed, including scientists and ecological experts, that the situation will only be more terrible not just for Brazil but for the whole planet. Even global leaders urged an international pressure be put to Bolsonaro and the governing bodies as may be the only way to take genuine steps and extinguish the burning crisis ravaging now over the parts of Amazon.

In Brazil, a campaign group Avaaz made a petition asking the government to halt illegal deforestation, which has already garnered 1.1 million signatures. Meanwhile, the Para state’s federal prosecutors are investigating the significant decline in environmental inspections and the absence of military police from inspection operations, where they used to provide protection.

Rather than going into business with the national authorities, some foreign governments, conservation groups, and environmentalists are seeking deals directly with Brazilian state governments and NGOs.

8. What social media has to say about the Amazon forest fire?

Over the week past, the hashtag #PrayForAmazonia started to be widely used and has been included in millions of tweets, posts, and comments.

twitter.com/tyswizzlee/status/1163748744707235840?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1163748744707235840&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.com%2Fnews%2Fworld-latin-america-49433437

In a tweet, the French President Emmanuel Macron called for an urgent action upon saving the burning “house” of our planet, referring to the Amazon forest. He said he would put the matter on the G7 summit’s agenda in France this weekend.

Many celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, and Cristiano Ronaldo have also raised the alarm for concern over the widespread ravaging in the Amazon forest fire.

International NGOs like Greenpeace, Forest Action Network, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and many more also have expressed their outrage on social media and dismay with how poor does the national government of Brazil respond to the situation.

9. How can we, people from outside Brazil, help about it?

In an article written by Melissa Locker of Fast Company, there were suggestions we can all do to help the rainforest in crisis now that guaranteed a long-lasting impact. One is we can donate as much as we can through different networks which directly work with rebuilding, capacitating the community, and protecting and nourishing the rainforest and its species, particularly in the Amazon region. People can check out these organizations and coordinate with them: Rainforest Action Network; Rainforest Trust; Amazon Watch; Amazon Aid Foundation; World Wildlife Fund; and Greenpeace Brazil.

Signing a petition is making our voice from different parts of the world be heard. You can check this online out through Greenpeace’s website. This must be that time we can all maximize the power of having a virtual community nowadays.

Reduce the paper and wood you consume and definitely the pieces of stuff that only go to waste wherever you are in the Earth. Help protect animals living in the wild, and facilitate awareness campaigns, from what you can, that will raise pro-environment consciousness among our fellows.

Sources: Express, Reuters, The Washington Post, National Geographic Kids, HuffPost, CNN World, BBC News, The New York Times, The Guardian, Fast Company

Photo: Dailyrecord

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