"What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another." - Gandhi
What makes Amazon so special?
The Amazon is a rainforest which means it receives rainfall throughout the year. It is the largest rainforest in the world and is so big that India would fit into 1.5 times. It has dense vegetation and really tall trees. Trees so tall that the canopy formed by them prevents sunlight from reaching the ground. The canopy is so thick that if it rains, it takes around 10 minutes for the water to reach the ground.
The Amazon has an incredibly rich ecosystem – there are around 40,000 plant species, 1,300 bird species, 3,000 types of fish, 430 mammals and a whopping 2.5 million different insects. The Amazon is home to a whole host of fascinating – and deadly! – creatures, including electric eels, flesh eating piranhas, poison dart frogs, jaguars and some seriously venomous snakes. One fascinating fish found in the Amazon is the Pirarucu (also known as the arapaima or paiche). A menacing meat-eater, the pirarucu guzzles up other fish and can grow to nearly 3m long! And what makes it super deadly? It has teeth on the roof of its mouth and on its tongue!
This area of immense natural beauty is sometimes referred to as ‘the lungs of the Earth’. This is because the rich vegetation takes carbon dioxide out of the air, and releases oxygen back in. In fact, more than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon.
Should we really be worried of the Amazon Fire?
Started in the Amazonian rainforests, the fires have impacted populated areas in the north, such as the states of Rondônia and Acre, blocking sunlight and enveloping the region in smoke. The smoke has wafted thousands of miles to the Atlantic coast and São Paulo, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has reported that forest fires in the region have doubled since 2013, and increased by 84% compared to the same period last year. This year alone there have been 72,843 fires, it said, and more than 9,500 of those have happened over the past few days.
A National Geographic report said the Amazon rainforest influences the water cycle not only on a regional scale, but also on a global scale. The rain produced by the Amazon travels through the region and even reaches the Andes mountain range. Moisture from the Atlantic falls on the rainforest, and eventually evaporates back into the atmosphere. The report said the Amazon rainforest has the ability to produce at least half of the rain it receives. This cycle is a delicate balance.
The Amazons are rainforests which means that they stay damp throughout the year and cannot catch fire naturally. It is a common practice by the farmers to set a section of forest on fire so that they can farm and use it as a grazing ground for their cattle. Although illegal many practice it. Such practices are common in India as well but usually go unnoticed until something really big happens. Such practices should be condemned, be it the Amazon or the Nilgiris.
Role of the government?
The pro-business President, Bolsonaro, while running for the President promised to restore the economy by exploring the Amazon's economic potential, opening it for business and since he's been in power, he's done just that. . The Amazons are rich in minerals such as Gold which makes it lucrative for companies. The Nalla Malla forest of India is also up for business as the National Green Tribunal gave a green signal for mining. This move, coming after the telecast of Modi special Man vs Wild wherein he emphasized on protecting the nature is ironic.
The weekly Brasil de fato reported that Bolsonaro’s anti-environment rhetoric has emboldened farmers, who organised a “fire day” along BR-163, a highway that runs through the heart of the rainforest. The weekly quoted a report by local newspaper Folha do Progresso, that local farmers had set fire to sections of the rainforest a few days ago to get the government’s attention. “We need to show the President that we want to work and the only way is to knock it down. And to form and clear our pastures, it is with fire,” Folha do Progresso quoted one farmer as saying.
The President on the other hand mentions that these fires are "common" and started by "NGO's" to malign his image. He also fired the director of INPE (Brazil's equivalent of ISRO) who showed that deforestation was 88% higher in June than last year.
"It's no wonder why Bolsonaro enjoys the support of Trump (BFF Goals). "
If such policies don't end then it's a crime against the planet and against humanity. The Amazon is incredibly important for our future, for our ability to stave off the worst of climate change This isn't hyperbole. We're looking at untold destruction — not just of the Amazon but for our entire planet.