The Amazon Rainforest, often referred to as the planet’s lungs may be close to the point of no return. Brazil’s rainforest has been on fire for the past three weeks as a result of cut-and-burn deforestation practices.
Fires are pretty common in the Amazon during the region’s dry season, which typically starts in July-August and ends in November. Over the last fifty years, about 20 percent of the rainforest has been cut away or burned, according to The Intercept. This year alone, there have been more than 72,000 fires across Brazil, with more than half of those occurring in the Amazon. According to data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, that’s an 84% increase from the same period last year.
AMAZON RAINFOREST BURNING TO A POINT OF NO RETURN
The wildfire crisis continues to raze Brazil’s Amazon rainforest which could tip the Earth over the point of no return, climate scientists have warned.
“We might be very, very close to the tipping point,” said Carlos Nobre, a climate scientist at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. And if we cross it, he said, “it is irreversible.”
#SAVEAMAZONIA: AMAZON FIRE CAPTURED FROM SPACE
Dramatic videos and pictures shared on social media under the hashtags #SaveAmazonia, #PrayforAmazonas, and #AmazonRainforest show the Amazon jungle engulfed in flames and smoke.
European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted a series of images taken from space on Aug. 24.
— Luca Parmitano (@astro_luca) August 26, 2019
The smoke from the fire raging in the Amazon rainforest has reached all the way to Sao Paulo, more than 1,700 miles away.
“This is #SãoPaulo, my hometown, covered in smoke particles from #Amazon fires (thousands of kilometers away) at 16:00 yesterday,” wrote Rafael Goldzweig (@schmuziger) on Twitter. “It normally gets dark around 18:00 this time of the year. Forest fires in #Brazil increased 82% this year compared to 2018.”
This is #SãoPaulo, my hometown, covered in smoke particles from #Amazon fires (thousands of kilometers away) at 16:00 yesterday. It normally gets dark around 18:00 this time of the year. Forest fires in #Brazil increased 82% this year compared to 2018. pic.twitter.com/atTmE3iwLM
— Rafael Goldzweig (@schmuziger) August 20, 2019
#PrayforAmazon and #SaveAmazonia hashtags have been trending on Twitter for weeks as residents of Sao Paulo share images showing sky pitch-black in the middle of the afternoon.
THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO
Brazil’s Amazon rainforest fire is releasing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere threatening the home of more half of the world’s animal- and plant-life. The forest fire is also emitting carbon monoxide into the upper atmosphere.
A new timelapse video produced by NASA shows the movement of carbon monoxide in the upper atmosphere above South America from Aug. 8 – 22. The video shows plumes of carbon monoxide coming from thousands of forest fires currently raging in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.
Red splotches show carbon monoxide at voles reaching alarming levels of 160 parts per billion (ppb), yellow splotches show 120 ppb, and green 100 pp.
Carbon monoxide released from the Amazon rainforest can linger in the upper atmosphere for months. This gas won’t affect life until it is in the upper atmosphere. But as strong winds bring it closer to the planet’s surface it will start impacting air quality and human health.
Scientists fear that the increase in illegal deforestation and the recent Amazon rainforest fire could bring catastrophic consequences to the planet.