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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

With 73,000 incidents, forest fires singe Amazon; smoke seen from space

Venezuela ranked second with 26,453 fires and Bolivia with 16,101 fires in Amazonian rainforests under their territory

world Updated: Aug 22, 2019 10:59 IST
Agencies
Agencies
New Delhi
American agency NOAA released photos of smoke that could be seen from space.
American agency NOAA released photos of smoke that could be seen from space.(AP)
         

There has been a surge in forest fires in the Amazon this year with activists and some foreign governments blaming the Brazilian administration for rampant destruction of one of the greenest regions in the world.

83% SURGE

National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said there have been nearly 73,000 fires in rainforests in Brazil till August this year, compared with 39,759 in all of last year.

Venezuela ranked second with 26,453 fires and Bolivia with 16,101 fires in Amazonian rainforests under their territory.

FACTORS

*Forest fires tend to intensify during the dry season, which usually ends in late October or early November, as land is cleared to make way for crops or grazing – similar to farm fires in India.

*This year’s fires, however, are also being attributed to deforestation – which has led to a lack of rain and, consequently, moisture in soil.

*The worst may yet to come. INPE has predicted that rainfall in the central and northern Amazon will be 40 to 50 percent below normal in the next three months.

THE EFFECT

*Images showed the northernmost state of Roraima covered in dark smoke.

*American agency NOAA released photos of smoke that could be seen from space.

*People on social media posted photos of Sao Paulo turning dark at 4pm on Tuesday.

*At least two Brazilian states have declared emergencies or environmental alerts.

BRAZIL’S ‘NERO’

*The surge in wildfires has occurred since Jair Bolsonaro took office in January as President, vowing to develop the Amazon region for farming and mining, ignoring international concern.

*Bolsonaro recently fired the director of INPE after he criticized agency statistics showing an increase in deforestation in Brazil, saying they were inaccurate.

*Norway on Thursday joined Germany in halting Amazon protection subsidies, accusing Brazil of turning its back on the fight against deforestation.

“I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada [the time when farmers use fire to clear land]”

- Bolsonaro, Brazil president

First Published: Aug 22, 2019 00:04 IST