You probably know that the Amazon has been burning for three weeks now, on a catastrophic scale that is the highest in recorded history. It can be estimated from the fact that the fires are visible from space, and the smoke caused a blackout in the city of Sao Paulo that is 3,000 kilometers away.
The world has woken up to the alarm, but is it too late? Brazilian Government has clearly said that they don’t have the resources to control the fire. They also don’t want other nations to interfere.
What would happen if the Amazon continues to burn? Are we headed towards doomsday?
Greatest Fires In the History of Humanity
There have been recorded 72,000 fires this year and almost 10,000 fires within the last week!
– Brazilian Space Research Agency
Most of the fires and smoke has been seen by satellites that show how much damage has really happened. And it’s a lot!
According to satellite data released by Brazil’s space research agency, fires in Amazon rainforest have increased by 84% this year, and deforestation has increased by 88% just in the single month of June.
We Are Losing, and We Are Losing Fast
Scientists have feared that if we lose one-fifth of the Amazon, it will be an irreversible tipping point that could trigger an event called forest dieback. That would mean the disturbance of the current environmental balance will lead to entire Amazon being unable to support itself, and it would dry out and burn in a systematic collapse. Once the collapse starts, it will be beyond our capability to stop it.
Oxygen No More?
Amazon rainforests are called Lungs of the Earth, which they literally are since they produce more than 20% of the world’s oxygen. It is also a major carbon sink that absorbs 2.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Amazon has been largely responsible for keeping global warming in check.
Dieback of Amazon will mean even lower levels of oxygen and much more carbon in the atmosphere.
A Recipe For Disaster
Amazon has been named as the Green Ocean since evaporation of water from trees here is so massive that it affects the global water cycle, weather patterns, and ocean currents.
If it were to transform into a large savannah, rainfall would reduce, droughts will increase and the climate would change in so many others ways that even the scientists cannot predict.
Carbon Back Into the Atmosphere
Not only the Amazon would stop being a carbon sink, it would also release the carbon that has been stored in its vegetation since centuries. That is a staggering amount of 140 billion tonnes of carbon, according to an estimate by the Rainforest Trust.
We Will Never Even Know What We Lost
The Amazon basin contains more than 40% of the world’s rainforests, and it is home to millions of indigenous people and more than 3 million species of plants, animals, insects, and bacteria.
According to many scientists, Amazon has so many undiscovered plants and bacteria that may be the key to many potential medical cures. Only a small fraction of the flora and fauna found in Amazon has been examined for its medicinal value. All of that would disappear forever, and we will never know what it was.
Black Rain, Here It Comes!
Black rain has been falling in the Amazon basin recently, just soot and dust with water raining from sky that turns everything black. Above is the picture of Samuel Hydroelectric Dam as captured after such a rainy spell.
Even Sao Paulo witnessed black rain on the day of the blackout, followed by people posting pictures of the murky rainwater all over twitter.
Featured Image Courtesy: Reuters