Many refer to the Amazon forest as the “lungs of the planet.” Unfortunately, our lungs are on fire and 2019 has been a terrible year for the forest as a whole. And the Amazon Rainforest fires will play a role in air quality for the future.
In 2019 alone, over 72,000 forest fires have been started. This is an 83% increase from 2018 and the year is not even over yet. The fires are currently uncontained and estimates say that at least 500 million acres have been affected so far.
The Amazon Rainforest fire is an environmental crisis that will have serious repercussions for the planet.
Amazon Rainforest Facts
The Amazon Rainforest is the largest in the world and produces more than 20% of the planet’s oxygen. It is also home to 10% of the planet’s biodiversity.
Thus, it has earned the nickname “lungs of the planet.”
Due to the sheer size of the forest, it is a key factor in the regulation of the planet’s temperature. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas.
Preventing this gas from entering the atmosphere is integral to keeping the global temperature from rising.
However, the Amazon Rainforest fire is creating an environmental crisis.
Impact of the Fires
Forest fires are extremely destructive. When trees burn, they release carbon back into the atmosphere. This contributes to the rising global temperature.
So far, estimates say at least 228 megatonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere. On top of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide is another by-product of the fire. This gas is toxic at higher levels.
Of course, wildlife is also in extreme danger. The fires are destroying their habitats and forcing them to flee. That is if they are lucky enough to escape the blaze.
Why So Many Fires
These fires are not natural. The majority of them were from humans, which makes them even harder to contain.
Farmers and ranchers have a long history of using fire to clear land for use. These can range from small to very large depending on the amount of land that they want to clear.
Unfortunately, farmers are being encouraged by the Brazilian government to take these actions. The government has also stated that it does not have the resources to handle this crisis.
An International Crisis That Requires Relief
The Amazon Rainforest fire is an international crisis. Brazil has already stated that it does not have the resources to combat the fires, which could potentially burn millions of acres of land.
The loss of this many trees could accelerate climate change. French President Macron had this to say:
Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days! #ActForTheAmazon
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019
Only fast action can save the Amazon Rainforest. If not, the global temperature will rise quicker.