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24 photos show the Amazon rainforest before and after the devastating wildfires
Almost 73,000 fires have been recorded in the Amazon Rainforest this year – nearly double 2018’s total of about 40,000 fires. The fires are coming from people farming and logging the rainforest. It’s not a new phenomenon. But it’s unusually bad this year. It doesn’t help that Brazil’s government and President Jair Bolsonaro have not prioritized the environment. Photos show people how have been cultivating the land since the late 1970s, but it shows a greener, healthier rainforest. And a sky filled with less smoke. Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. Fires in the Amazon rainforest, during the summer months, aren’t new. But this year, it’s the worst on record. While Brazil’s government has called warnings about the fires “sensationalist” and “hysterical,” photos show this year the smoke looks thicker, and the damage to the rainforest, or the “lungs of the planet,” is worse. The earth is being scorched, and fires continue to burn relentlessly. Friday night, following pressure from his own people and the international community, and after weeks of spreading misinformation about the fires, President Jair Bolsonaro said he would send the army to fight them and prevent deforestation. Here are photos showing what the Amazon rainforest used to be like, and what the burning looks like now.The Amazon Rainforest is 1.4 billion acres of some of the most important, biodiverse land on the planet, spanning the countries of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela. The areas marked in red on this map show every fire that has started burning since August 13, 2019.Foto: This map shows every fire that has started burning since August 13, 2019 across central South America.sourceCourtesy of Global Fire WatchSources: Business Insider, WWFThe Amazon has around 3 million animal and plant species, along with 1 million people living in it. But this year, many of those inhabitants are in serious danger, as the rainforest is burning at an unparalleled rate.Foto: Amazon, Squirrel Monkeys In Tropical Rainforest in 1981.sourceWolfgang Kaehler / Lightrocket / GettySource: BBCIt’s important to remember that forest fires in the Amazon are not new. Usually, fires occur every year during the dry season, due to dry, hot conditions, or through farming and logging. This is rainforest cleared back in 1990.Foto: Forest fire in the Amazon in 1990.sourceHans Silvester / Gamma-Rapho / GettySource: BBCBut in 2019, Brazil has already had over 72,000 fires, nearly double its 2018 total of almost 40,000 fires. This increase is deliberate, coming from farmers and loggers clearing the land. The Brazilian government has been criticized for prioritizing agricultural and mining over the rainforest.Foto: A man works in a burning tract of Amazon jungle as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Iranduba, Amazonas state, Brazil August 20, 2019.sourceBruno Kelly/ReutersSource: BBC, ReutersThis is what virgin, untouched rainforest looked like in 2005.Foto: Virgin Amazon jungle is seen in this aerial photo taken over Mato Grosso State, one of the Brazilian states of greatest deforestation, on May 18, 2005.sourceREUTERS/Rickey RogersDeforestation and fires to make way for development, logging, and agriculture have been two of the biggest threats to the rainforest over the years. In 1999, a satellite image shows deforestation in Brazil’s rainforest. The untouched forest is deep green.Foto: Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest at Rondonia, Brazil.sourceUniversal History Archive / GettyIn August 2019, 20 years later, it’s harder to see the land in images from NASA, because of smoke from burning fires. INPE, a space agency, said the fires were not natural, since the climate has been normal this year, and there’s been no drought.Foto: This satellite image provided by NASA shows several fires burning in the Brazilian Amazon forest.sourceAssociated PressSource: ReutersSmoke looks thinner and lighter, in 1973, when Brazil was beginning to try and integrate the rainforest into its economy, through logging and cultivating farmland.Foto: Amazon forest burns along a stretch of Brazil’s BR 163 national highway, built by the military in 1973 as part of a strategic plan to integrate the world’s biggest rainforest into the national economysourceRickey Rogers RR / TZ / ReutersIn 2019, thick smoke now blankets much of the Amazon. The actual size of the fires is still not entirely clear, but they’re burning in several large states in northwest Brazil. Estimates have smoke covering 1.2 million square miles of land.Foto: sourceUeslei Marcelino/ReutersSources: National Geographic, Business Insider, NewsweekA river winds its way through untouched rainforest in 2005. The Amazon is home to 4,100 miles of rivers.Foto: Virgin Amazon jungle is seen in this aerial photo taken over Mato Grosso State, one of the Brazilian states of greatest deforestation, May 18, 2005.sourceREUTERS/Rickey RogersSource: WWFOn August 17, 2019, glowing smoke in Humaitaa, Brazil, looked ominous at night. According to Reuters, the sky never goes dark while the Amazon burns.Foto: An area of the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Brazil burns on August 17, 2019.sourceUeslei Marcelino / ReutersSource: ReutersAnd the smoke is even managing to darken the skies of Sao Paulo, which is 2,000 miles away.Foto: In this August 19, 2019 photo, you can see the darkened sky above Sao Paulo, Brazil due to a smoke cloud from forest fires in the Amazon thousands of miles away.sourceAndre Lucas/GettySource: BBCHere’s what Sao Paulo looked like on a clear day in 2015. More than 12 million people live in the city.Foto: A helicopter flies over the skyline of Sao Paulo February 12, 2015.sourceREUTERS/Paulo WhitakerBack in 1988, it was mist rather than smoke that made it hard to see the tree canopy in the jungle.Foto: Early morning mists rise and evaporate above the Balbina forest canopy in the Amazon jungle.sourceCollart Herve / Sygma / GettyAs for deforestation, the rainforest has been getting chopped down for years. This section at the top was destroyed for farming in 1983.Foto: Brazil in 1983.sourceHans Silvester / Gamma-Rapho / GettyAnd this was another section of destroyed forest in Brazil, in 1990.Foto: 1990 Amazon rainforest destruction.sourceHans Silvester / Gamma-Rapho / GettySeen here is an area of rainforest that was developed in 1999. It’s no longer jungle, but it’s still green.Foto: BRAZIL Rondonia. Aerial view over deforestation and development along new roadssourceUniversal Images Group / GettyHere, you can see the four stages of turning forest into a cattle farm, from 2014. There’s naked land where the forest was razed, there’s pasture ready for cattle, there’s forest being burned, and other forest that would be burned later. It was happening then, but not to the degree it’s happening now.Foto: This November 17, 2014 photo shows the four stages of land management on a big cattle farm in the Brazilian Amazon near Acre. In the foreground, naked clear land where the forest has recently been burned and grass will be grown. On the right, a pasture waiting for the cattle. In the background, the forest being burned to make pasture. On the left, native forest, which will soon enough undergo the same.sourceRicardo Funari/GettyCultivating the land continues in 2019, except now it’s harder to make out due to smoke in the atmosphere.Foto: Smoke hovers over a fire in Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho on August 21, 2019.sourceUeslei Marcelino / ReutersAnd it’s not just smoke, either. The fires are leaving the earth scorched …Foto: A tract of Amazon jungle burns as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Novo AiraosourceBruno Kelly/Reuters… and lifeless. If it continues, the rainforest could dry out even more, become flammable, and release billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere.Foto: A tract of Amazon jungle burns as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Novo Airao, Amazonas state, Brazil August 21, 2019.sourceBruno Kelly / ReutersRead more: Fires in the Amazon could be part of a doomsday scenario that sees the rainforest spewing carbon into the atmosphere and speeding up climate change even moreMany people, like Frere Henri Burin Des Roziers, work to protect the rainforest. Seen here in September 2008, he stares at the destruction and scorched earth caused by fire near Para, Brazil. Because of his work, he’s had his life threatened.Foto: Frere Henri Burin Des Roziers looks at a fire burning trees from the forest about 110 km from Xinguara, state of Para, Brazil. Roziers has endured many death threats, because of his work protecting the Amazon.sourcePaulo Fridman / Corbis / GettyEnvironmental activists have been fighting to save the rainforest for years. Here, a Greenpeace protest calls deforestation a “crime” near the Brazilian town of Claudia, Mato Gross, in 2005.Foto: Greenpeace activists stage a protest against deforestation near a Brazil nut tree in the Amazon rainforest in the Brazil town of Claudia, Mato Grosso State August 9, 2005.sourceBruno Domingos / ReutersPeople are protesting Bolsonaro’s inaction and his downplaying of the crisis. He’s in-turn blamed the fires on environmental groups without evidence. On Friday, Bolsonaro said the army would fight the fires.Foto: People protest in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 23, 2019, calling for the government to fight the fires.sourceAna Rovati/InsiderSources: Business Insider, The GuardianThe post 24 photos show the Amazon rainforest before and after the devastating wildfires appeared first on Business Insider Nederland.
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