SOURCE: Climate Change News

DATE: October 5, 2017

SNIP: Philip Fearnside, a US-born professor at Brazil’s National Institute for Research in Amazonia (INPA), has researched the Amazon for three decades. In an interview with Climate Home in his office in Manaus, he explains how climate change is driving forest fires through the most important forest on earth, creating a cycle of carbon emissions that threatens to push beyond human’s capacity to control it.

These fires represent something that the forest simply can’t stand up to. The Amazon forest isn’t adapted to fire, it’s not like the savannahs in central Brazil, where the trees have thick bark and are adapted to fires. Amazon forest fires kill a lot of trees. The fire moves through the understory of the forest, burning leaves and twigs on the ground.

This is very dangerous for the climate because it’s something that doesn’t depend on people deciding what to do. You can decide not to burn fossil fuels and not to cut down trees with chainsaws. But if a forest is being killed because there are more forest fires, it’s something happening beyond human control. And there’s a limit to how much humans can do to control global warming.