The world’s largest tropical rainforest is home to several unique species of flora and fauna and even human settlements — some of whom have never stepped outside of the sprawling forest and have not had any interaction with modern technology. But they and some estimated 390 billion individual trees spread over nine countries are facing an existential threat. According to satellite data from NASA and the national space agency of Brazil — a country which hosts most of the rainforest — there have been a record 74,000 forest fires this year.
These wildfires, which engulf acres of forest at a time, not only threaten the inherent ecosystem but also nearby human settlements. Videos this week have been going viral from Sao Paulo — a Brazilian city located some 2,700 kilometres away from the wildfires — showing thick walls of smoke creating a ‘blackout’ over the city. The smoke spread fear and panic in the city which is home to over 12 million people and is the 12th most populated city in the world.
Wildfires are a natural phenomenon happening in forests from the Amazon to our own in Galiyat. However, oftentimes, these fires are caused by people themselves for a variety of reasons: for eg, to clear an area or hide evidence of illegal logging. All in all, it comes at a terrible cost that we are all too ready to pay or dismiss at our peril. Natural disasters over the past decade due to the rising global average temperature must be indication enough that the environment is not one country’s job. Even if Brazil has most of the forest, the entire South American continent and the world at large must pool resources to put out those fires and protect the forest.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2019.
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