Fires Rage Through the Amazon

Locations+of+fires+in+South+America+as+detected+by++satellites+in+mid+August.+PC%3A+NASA%27s+Terra%2FAqua+MODIS
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Fires Rage Through the Amazon

Locations of fires in South America as detected by  satellites in mid August. PC: NASA's Terra/Aqua MODIS

Locations of fires in South America as detected by satellites in mid August. PC: NASA's Terra/Aqua MODIS

Locations of fires in South America as detected by satellites in mid August. PC: NASA's Terra/Aqua MODIS

Locations of fires in South America as detected by satellites in mid August. PC: NASA's Terra/Aqua MODIS

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A record number of fires continue blazing across the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest. More than 74,000 fires have been reported so far and the inferno has still not been put out. 

Aside from producing nearly 20% of the oxygen on Earth, the Amazon rainforest also helps mitigate climate change, provide habitats for rare species of plants, animals and insects, and act as a sanctuary for indigenous people. 

Because forest fires are uncommon in ecosystems like the Amazon, it is safe to assume that humans are to blame. Data from satellite images unmistakably link the cause of this tragedy with previously cleared agricultural land.

Since the start of his term in 2019, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has encouraged deforestation in order to develop agricultural land. In light of recent events, Bolsonaro’s environmental policies have sparked international outrage, as many believe he is to blame. 

Beginning on Friday 8/23, Bolsonaro reluctantly sent the army to combat the flames and has even banned deliberate fires in the Amazon for the next sixty days. However, the Brazilian president has also turned down offers of aid from France— the two countries are in competition in agriculture, which has escalated into a war of words. Bolsonaro has since softened his stance and chosen to accept aid from the UK and other members of the G7 to use under his own terms.

Losing the Amazon to fire will be an immense blow to our fight against climate change. As a species, we need to demand action and ask ourselves what we are willing to do for the environment because crises like these affect everyone.

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