Published On: Thu, Aug 22nd, 2019

Amazon rainforest fires: What happens if the Amazon rainforest burns down? | World | News

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has seen a record number of fires this year. The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said its satellite data showed an 84 percent increase on the same period in 2018. More than 9,500 fires have been detected in the last week, adding up to a total of 73,000 from January to August 2019.Many are now worried about the consequences if the Amazon were to burn down.

The Amazon basin is the largest rainforest in the world, and a vital carbon store that slows down global warming.

In total, it contains 40 percent of the world’s tropical forests.

The rainforest also accounts for between 10 and 15 percent of the biodiversity of Earth’s continents.

The Amazon fires are particularly alarming as scientists have said that trees are the planet’s first line of defence against global warming.

READ MORE: Amazon rainforest fire: What is being done to stop Amazon fires?

Trees are considered essential to climate stability and a study indicated planting a trillion trees could remove two-thirds of all the emissions caused by humans.

Due to deforestation, scientists estimate that we are near the tipping point where the Amazon can no longer function as a carbon sink.

They also warn the forest is in growing danger of degrading into a savannah.

That means its capacity to absorb carbon will be severely diminished and could result in consequences for the rest of the planet.

Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research said: “It’s very important to keep repeating these concerns.

“There are a number of tipping points which are not far away.

“We can’t see exactly where they are, but we know they are very close. It means we have to do things right away.

“Unfortunately that is not what is happening. There are people denying we even have a problem.”

The loss of trees and other vegetation can cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, fewer crops, flooding, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and a host of problems for indigenous people.

In addition, one of the most dangerous and unsettling effects of deforestation of the Amazon is the loss of animal and plant species due to their loss of habitat.

The trees also help control the level of water in the atmosphere by helping to regulate the water cycle.

With fewer trees left there is less water in the air to be returned to the soil.

Further effects of deforestation include soil erosion and coastal flooding.

Without trees, soil erodes and washes away and the land which is left is then more susceptible to flooding, specifically in coastal regions.

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