The world’s most diverse, largest rainforest, the Amazon, spans eight countries and covers 40% of South America. This is almost the same size as two-thirds of the US, according to the World Wildlife Fund. But this rainforest’s ecosystem is being threatened by an inferno, which according to NASA, is large enough to be seen in space.
There are many different exotic, unique species that live here, and more than thirty million people. This forest is often referred to as the “planet’s lungs”, and is a major source to the globe’s oxygen supply.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research stated that since the beginning of 2019, 72,843 fires have been reported in South America, the majority of them being seen in the Amazon. The plant and animal life are being wiped out every minute of every day. According to the institute, an 80% increase in deforestation has occurred this year in comparison to last year.
Check out this chart to see a visual of the number of fires in the Amazon burning per year. https://www.statista.com/chart/19089/number-of-wildfires-recorded-in-brazils-amazon-rainforest/
“The fires are destroying thousands and thousands of acres of the rainforest, every minute of every day,” says Barry Stoneback, a biology teacher at Quakertown High School.
The exact cause of these fires is unknown, however, there are certain theories on how the inferno began. “Farmers and cattle ranchers have long used fire to clear land and make it ready for use, so they are likely behind the unusually large number of fires burning in the Amazon today,” says Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organization Amazon Watch.
The deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, not only impacts its country, but it impacts the world. The Amazon contains one in 10 known species on Earth, 40,000 plant species, 3,000 freshwater fish species, and more than 370 types of reptiles.
Because the rainforest isn’t suitable for fire, many animals, and plants will die from flames, heat from the flames, or smoke inhalation. The biodiversity of this rainforest will downfall drastically if this inferno continues.
Climate change, a worldwide issue, can be tied back to the Amazon
Wildfires. Brazil’s National Research Institute, known as the INPE, suggests that a drier, and warmer environment for the Amazon region could convert from 30% up to 60% of the rainforest into a type of dry savanna.
Read this article to find out more about climate change- https://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/amazon/amazon_threats/climate_change_amazon/
“If these fires are ignored, it is going to lead to mass extinction, and probably more climate change due to the lack of carbon dioxide being taken out of the atmosphere.” Says Stoneback.
Because of climate change, many species in the Amazon will be forced to search for a new habitat because of the rise in temperature. However, substantial species will be unable to do so, considering the Amazon has a very specific habitat and many species will not be capable of adapting to another environment.
“The deforestation is definitely going to cause animals to move into tighter areas, which means there will be more competition and less food for all of the organisms to survive, so there will probably be a lot of extensions,” Stoneback says.
Based on statistics and sources, the Amazon rainforest fires are destroying a significant amount of species of animals and plants, and decreasing biodiversity. The Red-Faced Uakari Monkey, the Giant Otter, and the South American Tapir are all endangered species in the Amazon, that could become extinct if these fires are not stopped.
Overall, the worldwide problem of climate change is abetting the fires start and last for a period of time, which is still unknown.