Amazon Rain Forest On Fire
Brazil's space research agency has raised alarm over the raging widfires that continue to destroy the Amazon, the largest rain forest in the world.
A new report published by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said its satellite data shows 83 percent rise in wildfires in the country this year compared to the same period in 2018.
INPE reported that a total of 72,843 fires were detected so far this year, which is a record. 9,507 of them were spotted with in a week, mostly in the Amazon basin.
The northernmost state of Roraima, where an emergency was declared earlier this month; Acre, bordering Peru; and the states of Mato Grosso, Para, Amazonas and Rondonia were the worst-affected.
Satelite image provided by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service shows the smoke reaching as far as the Atlantic coast. "Biomass burning aerosol optical depth at 550 nautical mile," it said on Twitter.
Monday, Sao Paulo went dark after 4 pm as a result of smoke from the fires, which is very uncommon at this time of the year.
"The sky randomly turned dark today in São Paulo, and meteorologists believe it's smoke from the fires burning thousands of kilometers away, in Rondônia or Paraguay," journalist Shannon Sims, who is a Brazil climate expert, wrote on her Twitter account. "Imagine how much has to be burning to create that much smoke," she added, posting pictures of dark, cloudy sky lines.
She quoted some São Paulo residents who collected rain water when the sky turned dark as saying that it smelled like smoke.
Conservationists have raised concerns over right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro's environmental policy, accusing him of allowing farmers and loggers to clear the land for cattle ranching and for timber.
The president tried to downplay the seriousness of the situation by saying that such wildfires are common in the dry season.
The Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.
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