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article imageRecord number of wildfires burning in Brazil's Amazon rainforest

By Karen Graham     Aug 21, 2019 in World
A record number of wildfires are burning away large areas of Brazil's Amazon rainforest, according to satellite imagery provided by the country's National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
The fires are burning at the highest rate since the country's space research center began tracking them in 2013, the INPE said Tuesday. Satellite data revealed a staggering 74,155 fires in Brazil have been sweeping across its forests, an 84 percent increase over 2018.
In fact, reports CTV News Canada, since last Thursday, there have been 9,507 new forest fires in the region.
The smoke from the fires is so thick it has blanketed cities as far away as Sao Paulo - which is 2,700 kilometers (1,678 miles) south of the fires - in a cover of darkness.
Shannon Sims via Twitter
The European Union's Copernicus program released a map showing smoke from the fires spreading all along Brazil to the east Atlantic coast. The smoke has covered nearly half the entire country and is even spilling over into neighboring Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay, according to CNN.
This latest information comes just weeks after Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro fired Ricardo Galvao, the head of the INPE over the release of deforestation data. Data from the INPE, an institution of international repute, shows that deforestation has increased 40 percent in the last twelve months compared with the same period a year ago.
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.
The rainforest is also home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.
The BBC is reporting that Bolsonaro brushed off the latest data, saying it was the "season of the queimada," when farmers use fire to clear land. "I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame," he was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.
More about Brazil, Amazon rainforest, Wildfires, NASA, global consequences
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