Thousands of huge fires have been ravaging the Amazon rainforest in Brazil for about three consecutive weeks, raising widespread concern about the health of the entire planet.
The northern states of Roraima, Acre, Rondônia and Amazonas are particularly badly affected, the BBC News reported.
Environmentalists and researchers said the blazes were likely lit by ranchers, farmers, and loggers who want to burn and exploit the land for economic benefits.
The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and absorbs millions of tonnes of carbon emissions every year, making it vital to slowing down the pace of global warming.
The region is also home to at least 10% of the world’s biodiversity and one million indigenous people.
The raging fires have prompted a growing number of people, including world leaders and high-profile celebrities, to speak out.
“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon - the lungs which produce 20% of our planet’s oxygen - is on fire,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted, calling it an “international crisis” that needs to top the agenda at this weekend’s G7 summit.
In an Instagram post, American singer Madonna Louise Ciccone urged Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to change his pro-business policies and help the entire planet by protecting the Amazon rainforest.
American actor Leonardo DiCaprio called on his fans to donate to front line Amazon groups.
On Twitter, many people tweeted using the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia to express their sorrow.
As of press time, extra emergency workers have been sent to the scene of the fire, and sanctuaries are being set up for animals escaping the flames, according to the BBC News.
Brazil has seen a record number of forest fires in 2019, data released by the country’s space agency National Institute for Space Research (NIPE) shows.
The NIPE said its satellite data showed an 85% increase in the same period in 2018.
The official figures show more than 75,000 forest fires were recorded in Brazil in the first eight months of the year - the highest number since 2013. That compares with 40,000 in the same period in 2018.
A number of other countries in the Amazon region, including Venezuela and Bolivia, have also seen a higher number of fires this year.
Forest fires can be caused by both natural hazards, such as lightning, and farmers and loggers clearing land for crops or grazing.
What can we do?
Forests are of great importance to the environment. Without it, climate change could become irreversible. So every one of us have the responsibility to do something to protect them. Here’s what we recommend you to do: Help reforestation and slow deforestation, make sure the products you buy are “forest safe” and take steps to live sustainably.
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