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  • This is the biggest city in South America, but it's not night.

  • It's 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

  • The reason Sao Paulo is so dark is because the city is drowning in smoke from a massive fire over a thousand miles away, in the middle of the Amazon rainforest.

  • And it's not the only one.

  • Nearly 73,000 fires were recorded in the Amazon between January and August of 2019.

  • That's an 83% increase from last year.

  • And it's not accidental.

  • Forest fires like this one are highly unnatural in the wet rainforest.

  • Humans are behind this burn.

  • Every year, huge swathes of the Amazon are deliberately and illegally burned to make room for cattle ranching.

  • This season is called the "queimada".

  • And it can lead to wildfires like these ones, which burn massively out of control.

  • The wildfires have been especially widespread this year, which is also Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's first year in office.

  • And that's no coincidence.

  • Bolsonaro wants to open up the Amazon to mining and ranching, and has vowed to eliminate all protected areas.

  • He says the environmental laws that protect the Amazon are suffocating his country.

  • And he thinks global warming is nothing more than "greenhouse fables."

  • This kind of rhetoric sends a strong message to those who hope to illegally burn the forest for their own gain:

  • "Go for it. We're not coming after you. We just don't care."

  • Illegal cattle ranchers seem to have gotten that message.

  • And these are the results.

  • All for hamburgers.

  • It shouldn't take the financial center of Brazil going dark in the middle of the day to get the world to pay attention to this problem.

  • Because even when soot isn't plunging 12 million people into darkness, the Amazon is still disappearing at the rate of three football fields a minute.

  • Humans have already destroyed 15% of the Amazon.

  • Scientists say if we lose another 10%, the entire ecosystem could collapse.

  • And that would be catastrophic to life on Earth.

  • The rainforest isn't just home to countless plants, animals, and indigenous people.

  • It's one of the most important weapons we have in the fight against climate change.

  • The massive rainforest absorbs up to 2 billion tons of carbon emissions each year.

  • That's more carbon than Russia emits.

  • It also safely stores carbon from decades past.

  • 150 to 200 billion tons of carbon.

  • That's over 140 years' worth of human emissions.

  • If the Amazon collapses, this carbon will be released.

  • That would rock the world with unprecedented rapid warming.

  • And we would lose our biggest ally in the fight against the climate crisis.

  • Forever.

This is the biggest city in South America, but it's not night.

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B1 US amazon rainforest carbon bolsonaro amazon rainforest burn

Why The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning

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    Nina posted on 2019/09/02
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