Published On: Wed, Aug 21st, 2019

Amazon rainforest fire: Blaze rages on – Why is the Amazon rainforest so important? | World | News

In the Amazon rainforest, wildfires are wreaking havoc as the dry season begins in the region. The number of fires blazing has reached a record high in 2019, with 72,843 fires detected so far by Brazil’s space research centre INPE. Concerns over the fires are growing as right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policy is believed by environmentalists to have triggered such a high number of fires.

However, President Bolsonaro on Wednesday accused non-governmental organisations of setting wildfires in the Amazon rainforest to damage his government’s image after he cut their funding.

Mr Bolsonaro, who has shocked environmentalists with plans to open the Amazon to business interests, said NGOs could be behind the record number of wildfires this year, although he presented no evidence to back up his claim.

Mr Bolsonaro said “everything indicates” that NGOs are going to the Amazon to “set fire” to the forest.

When asked if he had evidence to substantiate his claims, he said he had “no written plan,” adding “that’s not how it’s done.”

Read More: Amazon rainforest shock map: DEADLY affect of Amazon fires

President Bolsonaro said the slashing of NGO funding by his government could be a motive for them burning down the forest as they seek to bring his government into disrepute.

He said during a Facebook Live podcast: “Crime exists. These people are missing the money.”

However, these comments have received backlash, with environment and climate experts disputing his unfounded claim.

Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace Brazil’s public policy coordinator said: “This is a sick statement, a pitiful statement.

“Increased deforestation and burning are the result of his anti-environmental policy.”

Read More: Amazon fires: BLACK RAIN falls in Sao Paolo – ‘Pray for Brazil’

Why is the Amazon rainforest so important?

Rainforests are frequently referred to as the lungs of the planet, and the Amazon rainforest is a key component in carbon storage, biodiversity and reducing air pollution.

The Amazon rainforest filters and reprocesses harmful carbon dioxide – through its numerous trees and plants.

These plants absorb carbon dioxide and output oxygen into the atmosphere while maintaining the carbon which helps them to grow.

Read More: Amazon fires reaction: Bolsonaro savaged over illegal fires

It is this carbon that when burns create dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, which can be fatal to humans and animals alike if inhaled.

According to the WWF: “without tropical rainforests, the greenhouse effect would likely be even more pronounced, and climate change may possibly get even worse in the future.”

Rainforests also help to control local and regional climates, exchanging large amounts of water and energy with the atmosphere.

Water is released by forest plants into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration (evaporation and plant transpiration) and to the ocean by the rivers, influences world climate and the circulation of ocean currents.

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