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Climate change and the Amazon

The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world. It is approximately six million square kilometers making up 40 per cent of Brazil’s total area.

Amazonia, the largest river basin, stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Andes in the West. The rainforest is defined by high humidity, high rainfall and continuous high temperatures.

The Amazon rainforest is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna including several million species of mammals, insects, plants, birds and other species, some still unrecorded.

Apart from being the largest habitat to a large species diversity, the dense forest absorbs a vast amount of the world’s carbon dioxide which helps combat climate change.

Climate change, just to recap, is the change in global or regional climate patterns, attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.

The impacts of climate change include sea level rise, severe weather patterns, flooding, droughts, shifts in many factors in agriculture (pest and diseases, soil etc.), changes in marine and terrestrial ecosystems and many more.

With a growing human population, the Amazon forest is deforested by loggers for timber. They tend to set fires with the aim of clearing remaining vegetation, to sell the land to farmers or cattle ranchers. With the act of deliberate fire starting and the humid dry season, these fires spread out of control creating the current situation of the mighty Amazon burning.

The once lush forest is predicted to turn into a dry savannah (a grassy plain with few trees).  There will be loss of many species, even extinction.

Climate change and global warming will keep rising since there will be huge amounts of carbon dioxide (main greenhouse gas) left in the atmosphere. Scientist have predicted an environmental disaster.

With the “lungs of the earth” gorged in flames and currently dying, we can only blame one species–mankind.

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