Images from space show the extent of damage to Amazon rainforest due to fires

Amazon Rainforest Fire
NASA satellites track actively burning fires across South America and capture images of smoke. Picture: NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens

The latest images obtained from space provide a very shocking perspective on the ongoing crisis in the Amazon rainforest. A massive number of fires in the rainforest has led to a global concern.
The satellite data gathered by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Brazil showed that there have been a total of nearly 75,000 fires across Amazon since the beginning of the year. This marks an increase of almost 84 percent in the same time period in 2018. These figures are highly alarming. Now NASA and NOAA have released new visual evidence which demonstrates the emergency level of the situation.
Captured using the Suomi NPP satellite on August 20, the image depicts the smoke extent in the states of Amazonas, Mato Grosso and Rondonia in Brazil. Earlier in the city of Sao Paulo, there were huge clouds of black smoke all across the skyline. It is to be noted that Sao Paulo is almost 2700 kilometers from the fires but still it was merged in darkness with daylight out there.
NASA Worldview gives another representation of the extent of the forest fires. It released an image where each red dot depicted a forest fire or “thermal anomaly” in other terms.

In the dry season of July to October, forest fires are common in Amazon. But there has been an abnormal escalation in the problem due to extreme human interference as burning is considered the best method to clear out land for agriculture.
Hence, the forest fires of this year are unprecedented and environmentalists are blaming the recently elected Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro as he removed the restrictions on illegal deforestation to generate economic developments in the rainforest and also asked the farmers to clear out land.
Bolsonaro has claimed that the fires have been manipulated by different NGOs and left-leaning environmentalists who started the fires intentionally for embarrassing the government as the conservation funding was reduced to halt different conservation projects. Although there has been no evidence of any kind to support the claims.

The Government has declared that there are not enough resources for controlling the fires. As a result of this, ecologists are fearful that the largest rainforest in the world supporting nearly a million species and billions of trees providing 20 percent of the oxygen in the planet might never come back to its natural state and be damaged significantly before the dry season ends.


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