Douse Amazon forest fires before it’s too late - GulfToday

Douse Amazon forest fires before it’s too late


Firefighters try to take control of the amazon jungle fire. AFP

The Amazon in South America is the largest, most diverse tropical rainforest on Earth and it is natural that the entire world is worried and angry over the worst blazes in years raging there.

It is hugely important that the fires in the Brazilian rainforest, known as the lungs of the planet, be extinguished as quickly as possible.

The latest official figures show 79,513 forest fires have been recorded in Brazil this year, the highest number of any year since 2013.

More than half of the fires are in the massive Amazon basin, where over 20 million people live. Some 1,130 new fires were ignited between Friday and Saturday, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro insists that previously deforested areas have burned and that intact rainforests have been spared, but he cannot absolve himself totally of blame.

It’s the same Bolsonaro who had described rainforest protection as an obstacle to Brazil’s economic development, sparring with critics who say the Amazon absorbs vast amounts of greenhouse gasses and is crucial for efforts to contain climate change.

The Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries, which believe Bolsonaro has neglected commitments to protect biodiversity.

Bolsonaro had said he wants to convert land for cattle pastures and soybean farms. Brazilian prosecutors are already investigating whether lax enforcement of environmental regulations may have contributed to the surge in the number of fires.

The government of Bolivian President Evo Morales also backed the increased cultivation of crops for biofuel production, raising questions about whether the policy opened the way to increased burning.

On the positive side, increased world awareness and action on the subject comes as a solace.

French President Emmanuel Macron has stated that the leaders of the world’s major industrialised nations are close to an agreement on how to help fight the Amazon forest fires and try to repair the devastation.

“There’s a real convergence to say: ‘let’s all agree to help those countries hit by these fires’,” he told reporters in Biarritz, which is hosting the annual summit of leaders from the Group of Seven nations.

Macron had tweeted that the fires burning in the Amazon amount to an international crisis and should be discussed as a top priority at the G7 meeting in France.

A new environmental foundation backed by Leonardo DiCaprio is also pledging $5 million in aid to the Amazon.

Earth Alliance was created last month by DiCaprio and philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth.

On Sunday, it launched the amazon Forest Fund in an announcement on their website. The funds will be distributed to five local groups working to combat the problem.

As per The Independent, in the last century one fifth of the Amazon, about 300,000 square miles, has been cut and burned in Brazil. Scientists have warned that losing another 1/5 of the Amazon will trigger the feedback, in which the Amazon will dieback, effectively killing the “lungs of the world” but also leading to the effective genocide of the indigenous peoples who call the region their home.

Images of fires purportedly devouring sections of the largest rainforest have gone viral on Twitter.

Environmental specialists say the fires are coming amid increasing deforestation in the Amazon region, which in July took place at a rate four times that of the same month in 2018, according to data from INPE. And, that’s a real cause for concern.

Related articles

Other Articles