Brazil’s Amazon rainforest suffers worst fires in a decade

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest suffers worst fires in a decade

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: October 1, 2020 SNIP: Fires in Brazil’s Amazon increased 13% in the first nine months of the year compared with a year ago, as the rainforest region experiences its worst rash of blazes in a decade, data from space research agency Inpe has shown. Satellites in September recorded 32,017 hotspots in the world’s largest rainforest, a 61% rise from the same month in 2019. In August last year, surging fires in the Amazon captured global headlines and prompted criticism from world leaders such as France’s Emmanuel Macron that Brazil was not doing enough to protect the rainforest. Data from Inpe released on Thursday showed that in 2019, fires spiked in August and declined considerably the month after, but this year’s peak has been more sustained. Both August and September of 2020 have matched or surpassed last year’s single-month high. “We have had two months with a lot of fire. It’s already worse than last year,” said Ane Alencar, science director for Brazil’s Amazon Environmental Research Institute (Ipam). “It could get worse if the drought continues. We are at the mercy of the rain.” The Amazon is experiencing a more severe dry season than last year, which scientists attribute in part to warming in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean pulling moisture away from South America. The entire Amazon, which spans nine countries, currently has 28,892 active fires, according to a fire monitoring tool funded in part by the US space agency, Nasa. The fires in September are not only burning recently deforested areas and farmland, where ranchers set them to clear land, but are also increasingly...
With world distracted, the Amazon rainforest continues to burn

With world distracted, the Amazon rainforest continues to burn

SOURCE: South China Morning Post DATE: May 9, 2020 SNIP: It has not got much attention with the world focused on coronavirus, but deforestation has surged in the Amazon rainforest this year, raising fears of a repeat of last year’s record-breaking devastation – or worse. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon hit a new high in the first four months of the year, according to data released Friday by Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE), which uses satellite images to track the destruction. A total of 1,202 square kilometres of forest – an area more than 20 times the size of Manhattan – was wiped out in the Brazilian Amazon from January to April, it found. That was a 55 per cent increase from the same period last year, and the highest figure for the first four months of the year since monthly records began in August 2015. The numbers raise new questions about how well Brazil is protecting its share of the world’s biggest rainforest under President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right climate change sceptic who advocates opening protected lands to mining and farming. “Unfortunately, it looks like what we can expect for this year are more record-breaking fires and deforestation,” Greenpeace campaigner Romulo Batista said in a statement. Last year, in Bolsonaro’s first year in office, deforestation soared 85 per cent in the Brazilian Amazon, to 10,123 square kilometres of forest. The trend so far in 2020 is all the more worrying given that the usual high season for deforestation only starts in late...
Top scientists warn of an Amazon ‘tipping point’

Top scientists warn of an Amazon ‘tipping point’

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: December 20, 2019 SNIP: Deforestation and other fast-moving changes in the Amazon threaten to turn parts of the rainforest into savanna, devastate wildlife and release billions of tons carbon into the atmosphere, two renowned experts warned Friday. “The precious Amazon is teetering on the edge of functional destruction and, with it, so are we,” Thomas Lovejoy of George Mason University and Carlos Nobre of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, both of whom have studied the world’s largest rainforest for decades, wrote in an editorial in the journal Science Advances. “Today, we stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.” Combined with recent news that the thawing Arctic permafrost may be beginning to fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, and that Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at an accelerating pace, it’s the latest hint that important parts of the climate system may be moving toward irreversible changes at a pace that defies earlier predictions. In interviews, Lovejoy and Nobre said they decided to sound a dire alarm about the Amazon after witnessing the acceleration of troubling trends. The combination of rising temperatures, crippling wildfires and ongoing land clearing for cattle ranching and crops has extended dry seasons, killed off water-sensitive vegetation and created conditions for more fire. The Amazon is 17 percent deforested, but for the large portion of it inside Brazil, the figure is closer to 20 percent. The fear is that soon there will be so little forest that the trees, which not only soak up enormous quantities of rainwater but also give off mist...
The Amazon Is Completely Lawless: The Rainforest After Bolsonaro’s First Year

The Amazon Is Completely Lawless: The Rainforest After Bolsonaro’s First Year

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: December 5, 2019 SNIP: When the smoke cleared, the Amazon could breathe easy again. For months, black clouds had hung over the rainforest as work crews burned and chain-sawed through it. Now the rainy season had arrived, offering a respite to the jungle and a clearer view of the damage to the world. The picture that emerged was anything but reassuring: Brazil’s space agency reported that in one year, more than 3,700 square miles of the Amazon had been razed — a swath of jungle nearly the size of Lebanon torn from the world’s largest rainforest. It was the highest loss in Brazilian rainforest in a decade, and stark evidence of just how badly the Amazon, an important buffer against global warming, has fared in Brazil’s first year under President Jair Bolsonaro. He has vowed to open the rainforest to industry and scale back its protections, and his government has followed through, cutting funds and staffing to weaken the enforcement of environmental laws. In the absence of federal agents, waves of loggers, ranchers and miners moved in, emboldened by the president and eager to satisfy global demand. Deforestation soared, up almost 30 percent from the year before. “It confirms the Amazon is completely lawless,” Carlos Nobre, a climate scientist with the University of São Paulo, said of the data. “The environmental criminals feel more and more empowered.” He warned that the Amazon may soon cross a tipping point and begin to self-destruct. “Law enforcement has reached its minimum effectiveness in a decade,” he said. “It is a worrying warning for the future.” Agribusiness, always...
Amazon deforestation ‘at highest level in a decade’

Amazon deforestation ‘at highest level in a decade’

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: November 18, 2019 SNIP: Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has hit the highest annual level in a decade, according to new government data which highlights the impact the president, Jair Bolsonaro, has made on the world’s biggest rainforest. The new numbers, showing almost 10,000 sq kms were lost in the year to August, were released as emboldened farm owners scuffled with forest defenders in Altamira, the Amazonian city at the heart of the recent devastation. The assault on the planet’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink by land-grabbers, agribusiness, miners and loggers is accelerating. In the year until 30 July 2019, 9,762 sq kms were lost, an increase of 29.5% over the previous 12 months, the Brazilian space agency INPE said. The clearance rate – equivalent to about two football fields a minute – is the fastest since 2008, pushing Brazil far off course from reaching its Paris agreement goals to cut carbon emissions. The annual numbers are compiled with information from the Prodes satellite system, which is considered the most conservative measurement of deforestation. Although less steep than the rise suggested by monthly alerts from the Deter system, it confirms an upward trend that Bolsonaro and his ministers said was a “lie”, which the former head of the space agency was fired for repeating. Environmental groups blamed the government for “every inch of the increase because it weakened environmental protections, supported loggers and encouraged...