Nature, Weather & Space

The Amazon Fires Are So Big They Can Be Seen From Space

The satellite images are alarming.

The forest fires going on in the Amazon have gotten so bad that they can be seen from space.

The NASA Earth Observatory satellite imagery overlaid on a nighttime satellite map of the region shows just how many fires were going on between Aug. 19-22.

NASA confirms that this is the most active fire year in the Brazilian Amazon since 2010.

It quoted Douglas Morton, chief of the biospheric sciences laboratory at the Goddard Space Flight Center as saying there has been a notable increase in “large, intense and persistent fires burning along major roads.”

Morton said that satellites may often be the first to detect fires in remote regions.

NASA

The fires in this region of the world have hit a record number, with different sources repeating various figures. Nearly 10,000 of the fires were started within the past few weeks.

The current number is 35% higher than the average for the period of January-August of every year since 2010, Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research agency told the New York Times.

The Amazon covers 40% of South America and includes eight countries.

The fires, which started in the last few weeks, have often been set by farmers or agricultural producers. A controlled burn to clear land then blazes out of control, spreading far and wide.

In Brazil, where fires are raging, controversial president Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday he would send 43,000 troops to help fight the blazes.

amazon fires 2019 photo
Getty Images | Victor Moriyama

While some disagree with calling the Amazon “the lungs of the earth,” uncontrolled and widespread fire in an area of such rich biodiversity and of such importance to local people is never a good thing.

Global Forest Watch pointed out this is just the start of the fire season in Amazonia.

“Human activity combined with drought conditions in the Amazon in 2016 and 2017 resulted in record levels of damage to the forest canopy,” according to a GFW blog post. “Previous studies have also found that in some years, forest fires accounted for more than half of carbon emissions from the Brazilian Amazon.”

amazon fires 2019 photo
Getty Images | Victor Moriyama

Here are some ideas to help combat the Amazon forest fire devastation yourself:

When shopping, look for labels that are pro-forest like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Rainforest Alliance Certified labels.

Check out Fast Company’s list of charities to donate to including contributions to protect forest acreage and set up protected forest areas.

Work on your own personal “sustainability,” including taking more public transportation, cutting down on your use of disposable items, eating less beef and buying carbon offset credits.

Contribute to these highly-rated non-profits: the Amazon Conservation Team, Amazon Conservation Association, Rainforest Trust, and Rainforest Foundation.