New Delhi: Large swathes of Brazil's Amazon forest, the world's largest forest often dubbed as the lungs of the earth, have been on fire since Monday, raising pertinent questions over the Brazilian government's land use policies. Smoke rising from the massive fire has caused a daytime blackout in Brazil's largest city Sao Paulo. The inferno playing out in Brazil has had environmentalists and experts across the globe concerned as the Amazon is responsible for producing 20 percent of the world's oxygen.
Reports have claimed that Amazon has experienced 74,155 fires since January, citing data from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, known by the acronym INPE. The figure marks an 85 percent increase over the last year and is significantly higher than the 67,790 blazes reported since by this point in the year during 2016 when there were severe drought conditions in the region associated with a strong El Nino effect.
The fires have covered Sao Paulo in thick smoke, raising concerns that the rainforest, which is one of the world's most biologically diverse regions on Earth, may be suffering from land-clearing operations and other activities intended to transform the land for agricultural use.
"People stored black water from the rainfall after the massive smoke cloud reached Sao Paulo," a Reuters report quoted Vitor Gomes, an environmental scientist at the Federal University of Para in Brazil, as saying.
According to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service, the fires have caused a clear spike in carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions, posing a threat to human health and aggravating global warming.
Here are pictures to give you a sense of the scale of the calamity: