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Fires in the Amazon: a barrier to climate change up in smoke

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Fires in the Amazon: a barrier to climate change up in smoke

By Stephen Eisenhammer



A tract of the Amazon jungle burns as it is cleared by farmers in Rio Pardo, Rondonia State, Brazil, September 15, 2019. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File Photo


SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Fire is not natural in the Amazon. Virgin rainforest, no matter how fierce the sun, is too wet to catch alight. If the forest burns it is almost always because of humans.


In August, around the peak of the so-called “queimadas” as the burning season here is known, the number of fires in Brazil’s Amazon jumped to its highest since 2010.


Fire is the second stage in clearing the forest, usually for raising cattle. First, choice woods are cut and sold, then the rest is burned. It is cheap, it is effective, and it is hard to catch those responsible.


Cutting down the forest is illegal without permission, and using fire is against the law except in exceptional circumstances.


Yet fire is changing the landscape.


The latest data from August 2018 through July 2019 showed more rainforest was cleared than at any point in the past 11 years. An area larger than Puerto Rico was cut down. Preliminary figures suggest the rate has increased since.


Three teams of Reuters journalists spent weeks traveling thousands of miles across the world’s largest tropical rainforest this year, witnessing the devastation of what scientists regard as a vital protection against climate change.


On the Trans-Amazonian highway, near the river port of Humaita, the August night sky did not go dark. The flames from a forest fire, stretching into the distance beside the road, glowed a dusky yellow. For days it burned.


Some people have taken protecting the forest into their own hands. Reuters spent seven days with an indigenous vigilante group fighting to keep illegal loggers off their land in the state of Maranhao.  


One night in September, alerted by the rumble of heavy trucks, six Guajajara tribesmen – faces painted for battle – rushed to ambush a group of loggers.


At a choke point in the local network of rutted dirt roads, they lay in wait, a 4x4 blocking the road, rifles and handguns at the ready.


When the trucks arrived, the loggers, who numbered around eight, were first to fire. The Guajajara shot back, forcing the loggers to scatter into the forest. The indigenous warriors burnt the trucks, piled high with freshly cut lumber. 


One of the men that night was Paulo Paulino Guajajara. He knew it was dangerous work and spoke frankly of his fear. “I’m scared at times, but we have to lift up our heads and act. We are here fighting,” he said.


Four weeks later, he was dead. Members of his tribe said loggers had shot him through the head.



-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-12-06
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An off topic deflection post about Thailand has been removed, this topic is about the fires in Brazil. 

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Humanity doesn't deserve the planet, perhaps it would be best in the long run if it was taken from them through their removal.

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The globe shall thank you Mr. Bolsonaro the most loved Brazilian President by the US actual President.

Lula was arrested on fake charge just few days a go the Law said it in Brazil, the Judge who trow him in jail is now a Minister of Justice .

Until western democracies are creating puppets for their own corporations profits  and benefits, the globe may only perish, what is a no surprise is that they now, that NATO and US next huge development is the space, "star wars"  as who will command the space will win the war, meantime mother earth will die for ever and us poor folks with it.


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