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Our house is on fire

What is actually happening in the Amazon rainforest? Matthew Owen, director of Cool Earth, has all you need to know

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has seen a record number of fires this year. In August, this burning caused a thick layer of smoke to descend across São Paulo more than 1,700 miles away. INPE, the Brazilian Space Agency (inpe.br), detected more than 72,000 forest fires between January and August in 2019, the highest number since records began in 2013. More than 9,500 rainforest fires were observed burning in one week from August 15th alone, mostly in the Amazon region. In comparison, there were fewer than 40,000 in the whole of 2018. Stats like these indicate just how much trouble the Amazon is in. And there’s so much more than meets the eye.

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About Be Kind

Hello, If you’d asked me earlier this year what images the Amazon rainforest conjured up in my mind, it would be densely packed, lush green trees, brightly coloured macaws and chatty toucans living alongside speedy squirrel monkeys and majestic jaguars. Perhaps naively, I assumed that the world’s largest rainforest was a constant – a protected part of our natural landscape, somewhere we can all close our eyes and see images of, like the Alps or the river Nile. But, over the last few months, this idyllic picture of the Amazon has been destroyed, replaced with haunting and horrifying images of blazing fires and ominous plumes of smoke. Often described as the lungs of the planet, the Amazon now looks like it’s starting to choke. The anthropogenic impact we have had on some of the most vital natural resources on the planet is really starting to show. The notion of constants is changing, too – our glaciers are melting, our rainforests are being destroyed, our rivers are polluted and our coastlines eroded – the landscape of our planet as we know it looks set to continue to transform and degrade. As bleak a future as I’m describing, it’s not all doom and gloom and there are many things we can do to help. We want the future generations to close their eyes and picture the toucans, not the burning embers of what was once the greatest rainforest on Earth. We need to act, and we need to do it now. Have a great month, Phillipa Editor