News ID: 257789
Published: 0606 GMT August 25, 2019

Alarming NASA pic shows wildfires raging across Brazil

Alarming NASA pic shows wildfires raging across Brazil

Satellite images released by NASA show the horrifying extent of the wildfires currently raging across the Amazon rainforest.

In one image, captured at night from space, the fires are clearly visible, with huge patches of orange spread across Brazil and neighboring Bolivia, wrote.

Another picture shows thick grey smoke covering large parts of the South American land mass.

The images come as the Brazilian government announces that 44,000 troops will be made available to tackle the blazes.

Brazil's environment agency has also announced it is hiring hundreds of temporary firefighters to help in the effort.

Yesterday pictures showed how indigenous tribes have seen their homes wiped out by the inferno.

Recent months have seen record-breaking fires sweep through the world's largest rain forest.

Since the start of the year, there have been more than 75,000 fires across Brazil, 40,000 in the Amazon alone, with the fire season only now reaching its midpoint.

NASA data has confirmed that 2019 has been the "most active fire year" since 2010.

The fires have sparked international concern, with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro coming under intense pressure to do more to address the fires.


Cycle of deforestation


The trees of the Amazon produce 20 percent of the oxygen we breathe, and the region is often referred to as the "lungs of the Earth".

Bolsonaro has previously voiced opposition to environmental conservation, and spoken in favor of expanding mining and industrial farming in the Amazon and other protected areas.

But in a speech on Friday, the president said he was committed to protecting the Amazon.

"The Amazon rainforest is an essential part of our history, our territory and everything that makes us feel," he said.

"Being Brazilian, our wealth is invaluable both in terms of biodiversity and natural resources."

"Protecting the forest is our duty, acting to combat illegal deforestation and any other criminal activities that put our Amazon at risk."

Monitoring groups have warned that deforestation in the Amazon has risen 20 percent this year, while a third NASA image shows huge patches of rain forest left bare by the fires.

Speaking to National Geographic, ecologist Thomas Lovejoy described a cycle in which deforestation fuels forest loss, which makes the region drier, which increases the number of fires, which further fuels deforestation.

Much of the rain in the Amazon is also generated by the rainforest itself, so as trees disappear, rainfall declines.

“This is without any question one of only two times that there have been fires like this” in the Amazon, Thomas Lovejoy said.

“There’s no question that it’s a consequence of the recent uptick in deforestation."


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