South America chokes as Amazon Burns

"South America chokes as Amazon Burns" is the headline on an online Independent news article. Apparently the annual practice of fall burning to clear forest land so we can eat hamburgers and get fat has spun out of control this year. The world's largest forest has become a bit of a "tinder box" due to drought conditions thought to be a result of climate change.

Vast areas of Brazil and Paraguay and much of Bolivia are choking under thick layers of smoke as fires rage out of control in the Amazon rainforest, forcing the cancellation of flights.

Satellite images yesterday showed huge clouds of smoke and much of the Amazon basin burning as fires, originally set by ranchers to clear land, have raged into the forest itself.

(full story)

This is not a good development in terms of climate feedbacks. There are vast amounts of biologocal carbon stored in the Amazon jungles, the release of this into the atmosphere via wildfires is not a happy thought.

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I do have a lot of sympathy for these guys. On a recent trip to South America my guide was explaining to me the pressure on them to clear sections of rainforest so that the land could be used to provide them with a decent income. It struck me that it was a little unfair that the industrialised world preaches the evils of rainforest destruction so that their trees can continue to soak up our excessive Co2 emissions...

Of course the situation is more complex than this, but I can see their point of view..

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