Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] Why Amazon fires are worrying

Man-made fires in the world’s largest rainforest have sent smoke to populated cities and the Atlantic coast.
By IASToppers
August 28, 2019

Content

  • Why it is in News?
  • How did the Amazon fires start?
  • Amazon Forest Fires
  • Significance of the Amazon Rainforest
  • What environmental protections do Brazil’s laws provide?
  • Conclusion

Why Amazon fires are worrying

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Why it is in News?

Amazon-Forest-Fires

  • Over the last several days, the Amazon rainforest has been burning at a rate that has alarmed environmentalists and governments worldwide.
  • Mostly caused by farmers clearing land, the fires have thrown the spotlight on Brazil’s policies and anti-environment stance.
  • Fire has impacted populated areas in the north, blocking sunlight and enveloping the region in smoke and wafted thousands of miles to the Atlantic coast and Sao Paulo.

How did the Amazon fires start?

  • Due to the Brazilian president’s anti-environment approach, local farmers had set fire to sections of the Amazon rainforest a to get the government’s attention.
  • Along with aggressive policies of promoting agribusiness in Amazon, Brazilian government has opposed protections for indigenous tribal land.
  • As a result, Germany and Norway have suspended funding for programmes that aim to stop deforestation in the Amazon and have accused Brazil of doing little to protect the forests.

Amazon Forest Fires

 

_108391892_brazil_annual_fires-nc

  • Forest fires in the amazon have doubled since 2013, and increased by 84% compared to the same period in 2018.
  • In 2019 alone, there have been more than 70,000 fires and more than 9,500 of those have happened over the past few days.
  • The Amazon fires are so large that they are visible from space.

Significance of the Amazon Rainforest

  • The Amazon rainforest is a repository of rich biodiversity and produces approximately 20 per cent of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • It is also home to indigenous communities whose lives and homelands are under threat due to encroachment by the Brazil government, foreign corporations in the resource-rich region.

brazil-amazon-fires-2-1

  • In a 2017, a study found that carbon intake by the Amazon basin matches the emissions released by nations in the basin. The burning of forests, therefore, implies additional carbon emissions.
  • Research suggests that further deforestation could lead to the Amazon’s transformation from the world’s largest rainforest to a savanna, which would reverse the region’s ecology.
  • 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 Amazon rainforest has the ability to produce at least half of the rain it receives.
  • The Amazon has large reserves of gold and other minerals.

What environmental protections do Brazil’s laws provide?

Amazon-Forest-Fires-1-astoppers

  • Since the 1960s, the Amazon has witnessed large-scale deforestation because of cattle-ranching, logging, power projects, mining and farming.
  • Agribusiness products in 2016 represented 46% of Brazil’s exports.
  • Under Brazil’s Forest Code of 1965, farmers could purchase Amazon land but could farm only 20% of it.
  • Following the collapse of the military dictatorship in 1988, a new constitution gave indigenous populations legal ownership of their land and the right to reject development of their land.
  • In 2012, the Forest Code was revised to reduce the area of deforested land required to be restored, and to reduce penalties for illegal deforesting. In 2018, Brazil’s Supreme Court upheld these changes.

Conclusion

amazon

  • Nearly 80,000 forest fires have broken out in Brazil since the beginning of 2019, just over half of them in the massive Amazon basin that regulates part of Earth’s carbon cycle and climate.
  • Environmentalists have put the blame on Brazilian President saying his policies have only threatened the forest more.
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