This has been a record year for wildfires in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Although this may seem paradoxical – fire in a jungle – the devastation is real.
Brazil’s space research center INPE has logged 72,843 fires so far this year (2019), up 83 percent from the same period in 2018.
Between August 15-21, 9,507 new fires were spotted by INPE, most of them located in the Amazon basin, famous for its tropical rainforest, the largest expanse of standing trees in the world.
On August, 9, the Brazilian State of Amazonas declared an emergency in its southern region, as well as in the capital city of Manus. Another state, Acre, situated on the border with Peru, went on environmental alert because of the fires. The most northerly state of Roraima has been invaded by dark smoke.
After a wind shift, Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, was engulfed in black smoke during the middle of the day on August 19 for about an hour, between approximate 3-4 pm.
On August 20, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) tweeted that atmospheric monitoring data reveals that smoke from fires across the Amazonian region has reached the Atlantic coast, including Sao Paulo.
One person commented below the WMO Twitter message:
“Brazil’s president, for all of this chaos and he is doing absolutely NOTHING.”
In reply, another quipped:
“He is doing something. Actively making it worse.”
Of course, all forests experience wildfires. But this dry season in Brazil has been exceptional. Some observers report that farmers are setting fires deliberately to clear timber illegally to substitute with grassy cattle pasturage.
Brazil’s conservative President Jair Bolsonaro is being criticized for promising to allow the commercial exploitation of the Amazonian area, by clearing it for farming and mining, bulldozing vast tracks of trees to make room for Progress.
Deforestation on this scale could upset the balance of nature by lowering oxygen levels from photosynthesis:
“The Amazon Rainforest has been described as the ‘Lungs of our Planet’ because it provides the essential environmental world service of continuously recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen. More than 20 percent of the world oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest.”
The forests of Amazonia, the vast Amazon River basin and the Guiana Shield in South America, are home to more than half of the world’s estimated 10 million species of plants, animals, and insects and account for 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. In addition, the Amazonia river system provides hydropower for 30 million residents of the Amazon basin.
But wait, there’s more:
“At least 80 percent of the developed world’s diet originated in the tropical rainforest. Its bountiful gifts to the world include fruits like avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangos and tomatoes; vegetables including corn, potatoes, rice, winter squash and yams; spices like black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar cane, turmeric, coffee and vanilla and nuts including Brazil nuts and cashews.”
Plants also provide the active agents for 121 prescription medications on the global market today, with 25 percent of Western pharmaceuticals derived from rainforest ingredients.
Finally, forests are beautiful places, some of nature’s last true refuges. Losing them to fire or lumbering is a great loss to all creatures, great and small.
The rise of wildfires coincided with Bolsonaro’s taking office in January 2019 so global warmists are quick to blame his support for clearcutting his country’s rainforest for the uptick in wildfires.
The increase in conflagrations is due to the dry weather, some analysts claim. But scientists say the climate and rainfall in Brazil this year are only slightly below average.
However, the INPE researcher Alberto Setzer said the real culprits behind the dramatic increase in wildfires is not the bulldozers:
“The dry season creates favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.”
In 2015, almost 3,600 square miles (6,000 square kilometers) of forests were lost in the Amazon Rainforest, which covers over a billion acres in Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, and the Eastern Andean region of Ecuador and Peru.
On August 2, Brazil’s leader took action against Ricardo Galvão, the director of INPE, after his agency published statistics that indicated an 88 percent increase in Amazonian deforestation between June 2018 and June 2019. Saying the numbers were inaccurate, Bolsonaro fired Galvão.
The President of Brazil told reporters:
“I am waiting for the next set of numbers, that will not be made up numbers. If they are alarming, I will take notice of them in front of you.”
Marcos Pontes, the Brazilian Minister of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Communications, will appoint the next Director of the national space agency.