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The Amazon rainforest fires

Published on: 29-Aug-2019, 12:06 PM     
The Amazon rainforest fires are becoming an international political concern The source of the current wildfires in Brazil is not yet known, and the government in Brazil is not all that inclined to find out. INPE’s director, Ricardo Galvão, was ousted from his job earlier this month after his agency reported an 88 percent increase in the deforestation rate in the Amazon. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, called the deforestation data “lies.” On Wednesday, he accused non-governmental organizations of starting fires after the government withdrew funding for these groups. He provided no evidence for this claim. When pressed further about the fires on Thursday, Bolsonaro said the government didn’t have the resources to respond. And he again reiterated his claim that NGOs started the fires, according to the BBC: Asked on Thursday who was responsible for starting the fires, he responded: “The Indians, do you want me to blame the Indians? Do you want me to blame the Martians?... Everyone is a suspect, but the biggest suspects are NGOs.” Asked if there was any proof of this, he replied: “Did I accuse NGOs directly? I just said I suspect them.” The French government meanwhile is laying the blame on the Brazilian government. France’s Macron accused Bolsonaro of failing to uphold earlier commitments to preserve the rainforest. “The president can only conclude President Bolsonaro lied to him at the Osaka summit,” a French official told Politico, referring to the June G20 meeting. This deforestation stands to have major regional consequences. Without trees in place to anchor the soil and retain moisture, the underlying vegetation can dry out, making it easier to burn. Trees also evaporate a huge volume of water and emit chemicals that make it condense, helping the rainforest generate its own rainfall. Right now, the Amazon has been deforested by 15 percent or more from its primeval state and scientists are worried that if it reaches 25 percent, there won’t be enough trees cycling water through the forest. The region will cross a tipping point and eventually degrade into savanna. This has huge consequences for the rest of the world as well. The Amazon rainforest produces huge amounts of oxygen. Its vegetation holds on to billions of metric tons of carbon that could oxidize into heat-trapping gases. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this month reported that conserving areas like the Amazon rainforest will be integral to mitigating climate change. But with the current pace of wildfires and deforestation, the world is rapidly galloping in the wrong direction. Source: https://www.vox.com/world/2019/8/20/20813786/wildfire-amazon-rainforest-brazil-siberia

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