Saturday, January 29, 2022

Lungs of the Earth in Flames

By The Editorial Team Updated: Aug 27, 2019 11:53 pm

It is not uncommon to see fires in the Amazon basin at this time of the year when the weather is dry, temperatures are high and windy. But the rates at which it has increased this year, especially over the past few weeks, has sent an alarm across the world. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has reported that the country has witnessed a record number of fires this year, more than double the scale seen the previous year and a surge of more than 80 percent. Environmentalists, scientists and world leaders have expressed concern for the huge spike in fires, which would not only cause irreparable damage to one of the world’s biggest ecosystems but also produce massive quantity of carbon into the atmosphere. NASA has reported that the satellite images taken by its Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) onboard the Aqua satellite showed enormous cloud of carbon monoxide connected with fires in the Amazon region of Brazil. It stated that the poisonous gas was seen at an altitude of 18,000 feet (5,500 metres) between August 8 and 22, but it could be brought downward by strong winds and significantly impact air quality besides causing Climate Change.

Fires are part of many ecosystems but what’s being witnessed in Amazon could disturb the rich biodiversity of animals and plants in the world’s largest tropical rainforest. The source of the fires is still not known but fingers have been pointed at farmers that they are deliberately cutting down trees and burning down the forest for cultivation of crops. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had pledged during his campaign prior to occupying the top post earlier this year that he would encourage increase in agriculture production in the Amazon and allow the people to use the land to boost the country’s economy. Sadly, he did not pay heed to the concerns raised by experts and several world leaders.

The Amazon spread across nine countries in South America but major portion of it is in Brazil and most fires that took place this year are said to be from the country. Instead of taking quick measures to control the rapidly spreading fires, Bolsonaro and his cohorts targeted those who criticised the Brazil government for its inaction, and French President Emmanuel Macron was attacked for being vocal about the country’s political leaders’ apathy towards what he called “international crisis.” Surprisingly, Bolsonaro has rejected a $22 million aid offered by G7 countries to help control the fires in the Amazon rainforest, which is called the “lungs of the earth.” Following pressure from several quarters, the Brazil government deployed its military to fight the fires last weekend but letting fires burn down the forest for two weeks without taking action was appalling. The short-sightedness of the political leaders has almost destroyed not only the ecosystem but also render the indigenous people of the region homeless.

Experts have said that there is no need to worry about the oxygen supply, which was sparked by the claims that the Amazon rainforest emits a significant percentage of the gas, as nearly all the breathable oxygen in the planet originates from the ocean. However, fire pollutes the air with its smokes, causes Climate Change and destroys biodiversity. It’s not only the “lungs of the earth” but all forests around the world, including the ones in Nagaland that need to be protected. The world can’t afford to lose more forest area at a time when billions of trees are needed to be planted to fight Climate Change.


By The Editorial Team Updated: Aug 27, 2019 11:53:03 pm