With more than 41,000 recorded fires in the Amazon region so far this year, more than half of which have been in the last month, the world has sat up and taken notice of the ecological devastation taking place.
Leaders of the G7 nations agreed on Monday to a US$20 million fund designated to help fight the fires in the region. While the fires are an annual occurrence, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research says that this year, there’s an 84 per cent increase in the number of fires in the state of Amazonas compared to the previous year. The fires are mostly man-made, set by farmers preparing their land for next year’s planting.
To give some context to the ecological event, we’ve rounded up the five images that show the dramatic devastation and challenges being presented by the fires.
NASA satellite image of active fires at night
August 2019 is continuing an active Amazon fire season, with large and intense fires burning in the region. @NASA satellites tracked actively burning fires across South America and captured images of smoke in the last week. https://t.co/EZKu01MPHg pic.twitter.com/VEoNZi2KJQ— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) August 23, 2019
This dramatic pair of photos released on August 23 show the fires that can be seen at night from space, as well as the amount of smoke that is also visible from high above the Earth. Astronaut Luca Parmitano shared some more pictures from the International Space Station of the smoke on August 26.
It’s backbreaking work putting out fires
This group of firefighters, who are headed to the Bolivian fires that are also burning in the region. Due to the nature of the Amazonian rainforest and a desire to not further damage it with trucks rolling through, much of the work to put out fires has to be done by people on foot, carrying water jugs or smothering embers. The military was recently called in, so soldiers could help with extinguishing the blazes, and warplanes could be used to drop water over the forest.
It’s threatening human settlements, too
Last Monday, the city of Sao Paulo was shrouded in darkness as the smoke from the Amazon forest fires drifted over the city. The dark sky lasted for about an hour, according to the BBC.
NASA’s satellite footage of smoke above the Amazon
This satellite imagery, taken August 23, shows clouds of smoke above the Amazon basin. NASA said total fire activity was slightly up in Amazonas as of August 16, based on its satellite imagery.
‘It’s not fire, it’s capitalism’
Protests are taking place around the globe as the fires continue to burn. This group of protestors are stationed outside the Brazilian embassy in Buenos Aires, and are angry that the alleged cause of the forest fires is an increase in farmers and businesses clearing land for beef cattle, according to CNN.