Amazon fires leave major impact as they continue to burn

Anna Lumsargis, Editor-in-Chief of On The Prowl

A farmer walks through his fire-devastated land in the Amazon. Photo by Carl de Soza.

Fires have been raging across the Amazon forest in South America, over the last couple of months. The Amazon is an important source of oxygen, and it is often referred to as the “lungs of the earth.” This is because the large forest releases oxygen and stores carbon dioxide.

The fire in the Amazon is generating large amounts of carbon dioxide while destroying thousands of trees which would usually be taking in the carbon dioxide, thus protecting the environment. This traps the heat within our atmosphere and changes the atmospheric circulation, further causing the melting of ice and other symptoms of climate change. The Amazon also produces half of its rainfall; therefore, less rain would lead to dry plants which are more susceptible to spread the fire.

“This year has seen record high temperatures all over the world and it seems to me that it is no coincidence those warm temperatures have triggered fires in dry and vulnerable forests all over South America,” said Dr. Sandra Knapp, a merit researcher for the Natural History Museum in London.

The trees are not the only thing taking a hit, as thousands of plants and animals are facing mass destruction.

Dr. Knapp says, “The Amazon is far more than just trees. The understory (shrubs and herbs) contains half of the species diversity in the forest, and that really gets damaged in a fire, especially if the heat builds to very high levels.”

Many conservationists have accused Brazilian President, Jair Bolosonaro, of worsening the problem by encouraging deforestation, though he denies this. He had also claimed that the environmental relevance of the Amazon has been inflated and that the Amazon is not a global property.

“It is a fallacy to say that the Amazon is a heritage of humankind, and it is a misconception, as scientists claim, to say that our forests are the lungs of the world,” Bolsonaro said.

Bolsonaro would send 44,000 troops and military aircrafts across Brazil to fight the fires in late August after receiving backlash on his actions towards the fire. However, the fire is still as of now, currently burning.