The Lungs of the Earth are Burning


Amazon Fires.jpgPhoto via Twitter

The Amazon Rainforest is known as ‘The Lungs of the Earth’ as it produces more than 20% of the Earth’s oxygen.

For the last three weeks, fires have raged unchecked in the Brazilian Amazon! Since the end of last week, the National Institute for Space Research, Brazil, has reported that satellite images show 9 507 new forest fires in the country – most in the Amazon basin.

The Amazon Rainforest is the largest in the world and plays a critical part in combating global warming and climate change.

"One of the concerns with fires on this scale in the Amazon, is the impact on the carbon cycle and whether it is turning those regions of the Amazon into a net source of CO2 due to the loss of rainforest and change in vegetation," Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) told news channels.

Since January this year, a record 72 843 fires have been detected by the Brazilian Government’s National Institute for Space Research. This is an increase of 84% over the same period last year.

Environmental groups attribute the increase in wildfires to the policies of Brazil's President Bolsonaro, who took office in January 2019 and vowed to develop the Amazon region for farming and mining. The majority of the fires in the Amazon are set deliberately by farmers and loggers to clear the land for cattle farming. President Bolsonaro has ignored concerns over deforestation, calling the data “lies”.

According to the European Union's Earth Observation Programme, smoke from the flames has reached the Atlantic Coast of South America and crept into the extremely populous city of Sao Paulo. This is confirmed by posts on social media channels.

amazon tweet.png

July this year is marked as the hottest on record, with the global average 1.7 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 60.4 degrees F. (NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information)

The Amazon Rainforest is considered vital in slowing global warming and the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental groups consider it imperative that the rainforest be protected. Should it reach the point of no return, they predict that rainforest could become a dry savannah and, instead of producing oxygen, it could start emitting carbon  - one of the biggest drivers for climate change!

The stark reality is that without the Amazon Rainforest, we have little hope of keeping the Earth’s warming in check.

Some facts about out the Amazon Rainforest

  • It produces more than 20% of the Earth’s oxygen.
  • Approximately 3000 fruits that grow in the rainforest are edible.
  • 70% of plants known to have cancer-fighting properties are found in the rainforest.
  • It's estimated that if the world's temperature increases by 3 degrees Celsius, 75% of the Amazon would be destroyed.
  • It is home to:
    • 40,000 plant species
    • 1,300 bird species
    • 3,000 types of fish
    • 430 mammals
    • 2.5 million different insects


What can you do?

  • As an emergency response, donate to frontline Amazon groups working to defend the forest.
  • Share the story of the Amazon burning – tag news agencies, politicians and influencers.
  • Stay informed on the issues of Global Warming and Climate Change.
  • Be a conscious consumer, taking care to support companies committed to responsible supply chains.
  • Vote for leaders who understand the urgency of our climate crisis and are willing to take bold action – including strong governance and forward-thinking policy.


Michelle Robertson
OLA Communications Officer
22 August 2019


National Geographic
World Wildlife Fund
National Institute for Space Research, Brazil
European Union's Earth Observation Programme