Amazon fires have global impact

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Amazon rainforest burns, makes daylight turn dark as night in South America

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Over the past week, there’s has been a lot of attention given to Brazil and specifically the Amazon Rainforest — it’s on fire, burning at an alarming rate.

While it may seem like a recent problem, this has been an ongoing issue for years. So why is it getting so much attention now? More than 70,000 fires have been reported in the rainforest since the beginning of the year. That’s an 83 percent increase from last year and is the highest on record since 2013.

It’s believed these fires were not naturally ignited, but deliberately or accidentally sparked by humans. While the forest is typically wet and humid, July and August are the beginning of the dry season. It’s also the time of year when farmers and cattle ranchers have been known to use fires to clear out land for future use. That’s why scientists and researchers believe these fires are likely man-made.

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The rainforest itself covers about eight countries, roughly 40 percent of South America. It is home to more than 30 million people and countless animals, many of which are unique to this region. These fires put the people and animals that live there in harms way. But, it’s not just the locals in danger — the entire world may be at risk of unhealthy impacts caused by the burning of the rainforest.

The World Meteorological Organization tweeted about the fires saying, “Fires release pollutants, including particulate matter & toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and non-methane organic compounds into the atmosphere.”

As I’m sure you learned in school, plants use a process called photosynthesis to remove carbon dioxide from the air and replace it with oxygen. The Amazon Rainforest is known to be the “lungs” of our planet because of the amount of oxygen it produces every day. In fact, about 20 percent of the oxygen we breathe comes from that rainforest.

Burning the Amazon would not only dimish the amount of oxygen in the air but also increase the amount of carbon dioxide. The actual burning of the forest itself creates more carbon dioxide in the air than what already existed. The added carbon dioxide could also trap heat within our atmosphere due to the greenhouse effect and perhaps contribute to the warming of our planet.

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