Videos and photos of the Amazon, only the world’s largest rainforest, burning have surfaced online on popular social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. The wildfires, a regular occurrence during Brazil’s dry season, are worse than normal, thanks to the alarming increase in deliberate fires being started for the purpose of illegal deforestation and cattle ranching. By Amitha Ameen
Multiple images of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s financial center and one among the worlds most populous cities, revealed the city covered in a shocking blanket of thick black smoke. The daytime blackout, which lasted for a little over an hour, was due to the strong winds that brought in the smoke from the wildfire burning more than 2,700 kilometres away.
As the fire continued to ravage the Amazon rainforest, social media users attempted to draw attention of the media using the hashtag #prayforamazonia that went viral on social networking site, Twitter. Several voices of concern and prayers poured in from all corners of the country for one of the world’s most iconic environments. Some media reports even suggested that the fires have been ongoing for the past three weeks!
According to reports online, extensive and illegal cattle ranching has been one of the largest contributors for rapid deforestation in the Amazon. Additionally, president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro has also been accused of harming the rainforest to benefit corporations who helped him get elected.
Images from NASA’s satellites showed the black smoke from the wildfire covering not just parts of Brazil, but it’s neighbours Bolivia and Paraguay as well.
On Wednesday several media outlets reported that the number of fires in the region have been on rise, with more than 9,500 fires being reported since Thursday while 72,000 instances have been reported since January this year.
The bio-diversity rich Amazon rainforest has been in existence for more than 55 million
years and if it were a country, it would be ranked the 9th largest in the world. Apart from being the only rainforest of its kind left and being home to more than three million different species of plants and animals and one million indigenous people, it plays a vital role in keeping our planet healthy.