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article imageDestruction of the Amazon Rainforest is approaching tipping-point

By Karen Graham     Jul 29, 2019 in Environment
Brazil's portion of the Amazon rainforest is being cleared away at such a fast rate that it is approaching a "tipping point" beyond which it may not be able to recover, an expert has warned.
Under Brazil's new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest has rapidly escalated reaching the point where three football fields of forest are being destroyed every minute.
Brazil's Detecção de Desmatamento em Tempo Real (Real-Time Deforestation Detection) satellite system has been providing real-time deforestation monitoring since 2015, According to the data, deforestation, this month is on course to raze a swath of forest the size of Greater London – about 605 square miles.
On July 19, after the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) published the latest data on deforestation in the Amazon, Bolsonaro accused the agency of being "at the service of some NGO," according to O Globo.
Image playback from Inpe s website shows how the image appears on the satellite (left) and what it a...
Image playback from Inpe's website shows how the image appears on the satellite (left) and what it actually looks like. - Photo: Playback / Inpe.
INPE
"With all the devastation you accuse us of being and doing in the past, the Amazon would be gone," Bolsonaro said at a meeting with international correspondents in Brasilia. - This happens with many revelations, as of now (...), and I've even sent to see who is ahead of Inpe [National Institute for Space Research] to come and explain in Brasilia these data that were sent to the press - he added...
Protecting the Amazon has been at the heart of Brazil's environmental efforts for over twenty years, with the efforts actually reaching a point where the nation was showing some success in slowing the destruction and garnering international acclaim for its efforts.
But with the election of Bolsonaro, who has been fined personally for violating environmental regulations, according to the New York Times, Brazil has abruptly changed course.
Aerial view of deforestation in 2017 in the western Amazon region of Brazil
Aerial view of deforestation in 2017 in the western Amazon region of Brazil
CARL DE SOUZA, AFP/File
While campaigning for president last year, Bolsonaro declared that Brazil’s vast protected lands were an obstacle to economic growth and promised to open them up to commercial exploitation. And he did just that, and rather quickly. In the first seven months of his presidency, Brazil's part of the Amazon has lost more than 1,330 square miles of forest cover.
"Unfortunately, it is absurd, but it should not catch anyone by surprise," Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of Brazilian non-profit the Climate Observatory, said, reports Newsweek. "President Jair Bolsonaro and minister Ricardo Salles are dismantling our socio-environmental policies."
According to a study published in September 2016 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, deforestation is happening so fast that the Amazon is approaching a "tipping point."
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro (R  pictured June 2019) came to power in the wake of Donald Trump...
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro (R, pictured June 2019) came to power in the wake of Donald Trump's election
Brendan Smialowski, AFP/File
The tipping point that realizes the conversion of rainforest to savanna is estimated to be when deforestation reaches 20 to 25 percent of total tree cover. At this time, deforestation is already nearly 20 percent.
There is great concern over the extent of the deforestation. The Amazon rainforest is often referred to as our planet's lungs, producing 20 percent of the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. The Amazon is also a "carbon sink," meaning it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Without the forest, the land could be transformed into a savanna, which would greatly diminish the check on carbon dioxide.
More about Amazon rainforest, bolsonaro, tippingpoint, Climate crisis, Deforestation
 
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