SHOCKING wildfires have been spreading across Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, and there are no signs of the fires stopping any time soon.
But what caused the massive rainforest fires to break out and when did it start? Here’s the latest.
What started the massive fire in the Amazon rainforest?
Wildfires are common in the dry season, but are also deliberately set by farmers illegally deforesting land for cattle ranching.
Since becoming president, Bolsonaro has opposed protections for the rainforest, saying the land should be used for agriculture and mining.
The National Geographic has blamed the blaze on deforestation.
Thomas Lovejoy, an ecologist and National Geographic Explorer-at-Large, said: “This is without any question one of only two times that there have been fires like this.
“There’s no question that it’s a consequence of the recent uptick in deforestation.”
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More than 72,000 fires have been recorded this year, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
The agency also said the rise in fires marks an 83 per cent increase over the same period of 2018 and is the highest since records began in 2013.
American space agency Nasa said in a statement: “The intensity and frequency of droughts… have been linked with increases in regional deforestation and anthropogenic climate change.”
Ricardo Mello, head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Amazon Programme, said the fires were “a consequence of the increase in deforestation seen in recent figures”.
What animals live in the Amazon rainforest?
The Amazon rainforest is deemed to be the most biologically diverse place on Earth, according to WWF.
This rainforest is one of Earth’s last refuges for jaguars, harpy eagles, and pink river dolphins, and it is home to sloths, black spider monkeys, and poison dart frogs.
It contains one in 10 known species on Earth, 40,000 plant species, 3,000 freshwater fish species, and more than 370 types of reptiles.
More than 2,000 new species of plants and vertebrates have been described since 1999.
This rainforest is also home to more than a thousand different species of birds.
When did the inferno start?
Unfortunately, there are countless fires in the Amazon rainforest which make it hard – if not impossible – to say exactly when this outbreak started.
Having said that, the fires have increased recently, with more than 9,500 infernos since Thursday, August 15, according to INPE.
By August 20, the dark smoke coming from the world’s largest tropical rainforest had moved to Brazil’s Atlantic coast, the World Meteorological Organisation said.
It is predicted the number of wildfires in the Amazon will keep increasing in future months.
INPE researcher Alberto Setzer said: “There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average.
“The dry season creates the favourable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.”
How big is it?
The heavy smoke caused a daytime blackout more than 1,700 miles away in Brazil’s largest city São Paulo on Monday, August 19.
The city was plunged into darkness at around 3pm on Monday, a situation which lasted for around an hour, local paper Folha de S Paulo reported.
The smoke was so large and thick it was picked up by satellite images released by Nasa.
The state of Amazonas has declared a state of emergency due to the infernos.
Josélia Pegorim, Climatempo meteorologist, told Globo: “The smoke did not come from fires from the state of São Paulo, but from very dense and wide fires that have been going on for several days in Rondônia and Bolivia.
“The cold front changed the direction of the winds and transported this smoke to São Paulo.”
What areas are affected?
Areas across Brazil have been directly affected by the fire.
Satellite images show fires in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Rondonia, Para, and Mato Grosso, with Amazonas the worst affected.
Taken together those states form the bulk of western and central Brazil.
But it’s not just the country of Brazil for whom the Amazon is important.
The rainforest generates 20 per cent of all the oxygen we breathe, and contains 10 per cent of the world’s biodiversity.
It is often referred to as the “lungs of the planet” and plays a major role in regulating the Earth’s climate.
Were the rainforest to disappear, everything from global agriculture to the water we drink we be impacted.
How has the public responded?
Within Brazil, President Bolsonaro has faced criticism for his statements about the rainforest and his lack of action on illegal logging.
In July, an anonymous Brazilian official told the BBC his government was encouraging deforestation.
The World Wildlife Fund also tweeted footage of the fire captioned: “There was worldwide outcry when the Notre Dame cathedral was on fire.
“Why is there not the same level of outrage for the fires destroying the #AmazonRainforest?”