Fires are burning at a record rate in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, posing a serious threat in the fight against climate change.
On Tuesday, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reported that the fires have reached the highest rate since the country’s space research center began tracking them in 2013.
INPE said that there have been 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, mostly in the Amazon region. That is at least an 80% increase compared with the same period last year.
The Amazon is commonly referred to as the “Earth’s lungs” since it produces 20% of the oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere. Roughly half the size of the United States, it is the largest rainforest on earth. The Amazon plays a vital role in slowing global warming, and it is home to countless species of fauna and flora.
Devastating images and videos on social media show huge clouds of smoke and lines of fire leaving burned waste behind. The smoke has reached all the way to Sao Paulo, which is more than 1,700 miles away. Images show the city’s sky turned to pitch-black in the middle of the afternoon due to all the smoke and ash.
Copernicus, the European Union’s satellite program, shared a map showing smoke from the fires that spread along Brazil to the east Atlantic coast. The smoke has covered nearly half of the country, even reaching into nearby countries Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
From the other side of Earth, here’s the latest on the Amazonia fires 🌳— WMO | OMM (@WMO) August 20, 2019
Produced by @CopernicusEU’s atmosphere monitoring service, it shows the smoke reaching the Atlantic coast and São Paulo 🇧🇷
DATA HERE▶️https://t.co/Q6qzFdPfIT pic.twitter.com/aJKU2YwRpJ
According to INPE, more than 1½ soccer fields of Amazon rainforest are being ruined every minute of every day. People from all around the world have since shared their heartbreak on social media, hoping that more would pay attention to the tragedy and extend help.