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World News

Above the Amazon: Why the vital carbon store could disappear within a few generations

today31/10/2021

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As the sun rose over the Amazon, so did we – to see for ourselves what’s at stake here, in the battle to save the most biodiverse sanctuary on the planet.

Our pilot, Raphael Montenegro, pilots police helicopters.

Every day he witnesses the increasing number of blemishes on nature’s masterpiece.

Mark Austin is shown areas of deforestation by police helicopter pilot Raphael Montenegro
Image: Mark Austin was shown areas of deforestation by police helicopter pilot Raphael Montenegro
The Amazon Rainforest near Manaus, in northern Brazil
Image: The Amazon is 1.4 billion acres of dense forest, half of the planet’s remaining tropical forest
Aerial view over Manaus, a city of 2 million people in the middle of the Amazon rainforest
Image: Manaus is a city of two million people in the middle of the Amazon rainforest

While flying over the breathtaking canopy of the Amazon rainforest, Raphael points out squares of land razed to the ground – the work of farmers and loggers. All of it is completely illegal, but little is done to stop it.

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It is environmental vandalism where the vandals have the blessing of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a president who cares little for his country’s land.

Although Brazil has vowed to work towards carbon neutrality by 2050, Mr Bolsonaro’s track record includes rallying against environmental enforcement, at a time where environmental agencies’ budgets are already at a crippling low.

More on Brazil

The 3,977-mile-long Amazon River, the second-longest river on Earth after the Nile
Image: The Amazon River is the second-longest river on Earth after the Nile
The Amazon Rainforest near Manaus, in northern Brazil
Image: The rainforest is one enormous carbon store

Scientists here in Manaus fear that if things continue as they are, within a few generations the Amazon may not exist at all.

The rainforest below us is one enormous carbon store, holding the equivalent of almost 12 years of global emissions at current rates.

But as more trees are felled – and tens of billions already have been – it means less rainfall, higher temperatures, more drought.

The Amazon Rainforest near Manaus, in northern Brazil
Image: The rainforest covers much of north-western Brazil and extends into other South American countries
2-	The Amazon rainforest is a vast biome that spans eight rapidly developing countries—Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname—and French Guiana, an overseas territory of France.
Image: The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, famed for its biodiversity

The Amazon rainforest we picture in our mind’s eye as a wet and wonderous place packed with thousands of species of wildlife and fauna – could all be replaced by a vast dry savannah land.

And as we headed back, we saw another snapshot of a rainforest crying for help.

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Amazon deforestation warnings hit record levels

Tributaries into the Black River – which flows directly into the Amazon – covered in an oily film, its pollution laid bare to see.

Raphael says witnessing this is heart-breaking – but the Amazon rainforest is too vital not to fight for.

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 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News


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today31/10/2021