The Amazon is burning: 4 essential reads on Brazil’s vanishing rainforest

(Eco Business, 27 Aug 2019) Don’t blame climate change for the 39,000 forest fires now incinerating huge tracts of the Brazilian Amazon. This environmental catastrophe is human-made and highly political, writes Catesby Holmes.

Nearly 40,000 fires are incinerating Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, the latest outbreak in an overactive fire season that has charred 1,330 square miles of the rainforest this year.

Don’t blame dry weather for the swift destruction of the world’s largest tropical forest, say environmentalists. These Amazonian wildfires are a human-made disaster, set by loggers and cattle ranchers who use a “slash and burn” method to clear land. Feeding off very dry conditions, some of those fires have spread out of control.

Brazil has long struggled to preserve the Amazon, sometimes called the “lungs of the world” because it produces 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen. Despite the increasingly strict environmental protections of recent decades, about a quarter of this massive rainforest is already gone – an area the size of Texas.

While climate change endangers the Amazon, bringing hotter weather and longer droughts, development may be the greatest threat facing the rainforest.

Here, environmental researchers explain how farming, big infrastructure projects and roads drive the deforestation that’s slowly killing the Amazon.

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Eco Business, 27 Aug 2019: The Amazon is burning: 4 essential reads on Brazil’s vanishing rainforest