Human Rage! Amazon Forest Fire
From rubber to palm trees, the forests of the Amazon basin have moulded human history. Long before medicine, timber, and fascinating birds brought Europeans to the Amazon, autochthonous people lived in the forests for millennia.
With borders shared by Nine Nations, crossed by one of the World’s Largest Rivers and boasting a mind-boggling extent of flora fertilised by millions of tons of African desert sand, the Amazon is the World’s Most Valuable, and Impressive Rainforest.
Ever since the first European pioneers stumbled upon this treasure of nature in the 16th century, man has been nothing brief of obsessed with exploring and hunting every nook and crevice of it.
Some people retrace the history of the exploration of the Amazon, from the days of the ancient pioneers who found a new world and used it to no end, right up until the present day, a time when the safeguarding and protection of this tremendous natural resource have eventually gained global energy.
The Amazon – Natural Wonder of Planet Earth
The Amazon River Basin is home to the largest rainforest on earth. The basin approximately the size of the forty-eight contiguous United States includes some 40 per cent of the South American continent and includes parts of eight South American countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname, as well as French Guiana, a division of France.
Reflecting environmental conditions as well as past human influence, the Amazon is formed up of a mosaic of ecosystems and vegetation types including seasonal forests, rainforests, deciduous forests, flooded forests, and savannas. The basin is drained by the Amazon River, the world’s largest river in terms of outflow, and the second-longest river in the world after the Nile.
The river is made up of over 1,100 tributaries, 17 of which are longer than 1000 miles, and two of which (the Negro and the Madeira) are larger, in terms of size than the Congo (formerly Zaire) river. The river system is the lifeline of the forest and its history plays a significant part in the growth of its rainforests.
What is the history of the Amazon Rainforest?
At one time Amazon River flowed westward, perhaps as part of a proto-Congo (Zaire) river system from the interior of present-day Africa when the landmasses were combined as part of Gondwana. Fifteen million years ago, the Andes were created by the collision of the South American plate with the Nazca plate.
The origin of the Andes and the linkage of the Brazilian and Guyana bedrock shields hindered the river and made the Amazon become a vast inland sea. Constantly this inland sea grew a massive swampy, freshwater lake and the marine residents adapted to life in freshwater. For instance, over 20 species of stingray, most exactly related to those found in the Pacific Ocean, can be unearthed today in the freshwaters of the Amazon.
About 10 million years ago, water ran through the sandstone to the west and the Amazon rose to flow eastward. At this time the Amazon rainforest was born. During the Ice Age, sea levels drained and the great Amazon lake quickly drained and became a river. Three million years later, the ocean level subsided enough to expose the Central American isthmus and allow mass migration of mammal species between the Americas.
When the ice ages ended, the forest was again joined and the species that were once one had deviated significantly enough to constitute designation as separate species, adding to the colossal diversity of the region. About 6000 years ago, sea levels rose about 130 meters, once again making the river to be inundated like a long, giant freshwater lake.
What are the other World’s Largest Rainforests?
How large is the Amazon rainforest?
The width of the Amazon depends on the boundary. The Amazon River flows about 6.915 million sq km (2.722 sq mi), or approximately 40 per cent of South America, but usually, areas outside the basin are involved when people speak about “the Amazon.”
The biogeographic Amazon varies from 7.76-8.24 million sq km (3-3.2 million sq mi), of which simply over 80 per cent is forested. For comparison, the land area of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) is 9,629,091 square kilometres (3,717,811 sq km).
The Amazon River today:
Today the Amazon River is the most convoluted river on Earth, eleven times the extent of the Mississippi, and drains an area equal in size to the United States. During the high water season, the river’s mouth maybe 300 miles extensive and every day up to 500 billion cubic feet of water (5,787,037 cubic feet/sec) flow into the Atlantic.
For reference, Amazon’s daily freshwater flow into the Atlantic is sufficient to supply New York City’s freshwater demands for nine years. The power of the current from pure water volume alone makes Amazon River water to continue flowing 125 miles out to sea before joining with Atlantic salt water. Early mariners could drink freshwater out of the seaside before sighting the South American continent.
The river flow carries tons of suspended sediment from the Andes and gives the river a typical muddy whitewater appearance. It is estimated that 106 million cubic feet of dissolved sediment are swept into the ocean each day. The result from the silt collected at the mouth of the Amazon is Majuro Island, a river island about the size of Switzerland.
The Amazon River is home to a meat-eating fish that habitually attack victim in huge groups, the terrifying Piranha. This carnivorous fish normally preys on livestock that unintentionally strays into the waters of this mighty river.
The Mysteries Facts of The Amazon River:
- The Amazon River has a questionable origin
- The Amazon River is the second-longest in the world
- The Amazon River has the most tributaries in the world
- It takes 66 days to swim the Amazon River
- The Amazon River grows in the rainy season
- The Amazon River is home to the world’s scariest fish
- The Flooded Forests are fed by the Amazon River
- The Amazon River changes the colour of the sea
- The Amazon River is home to over 3,000 fish species
What do you know more about the Amazon Rainforest?
While the Amazon Basin is home to the world’s largest tropical rainforest, the area consists of several ecosystems varying from natural savanna to swamps. Even the rainforest itself is profoundly variable, tree variety and structure modifies depending on soil type, history, elevation, drainage, and other factors.
The Amazon rainforest is a fascinating and beautiful place, full of mighty rivers and lush green trees. But, beneath its bright green exterior, it’s struggling hard to provide the world with countless benefits.
Without the Amazon the entire world’s climates would be thrown off, the atmosphere would be contaminated with billions of tonnes of CO2, 10% of the world’s biodiversity would be lost, and we may never discover cures for many modern-day diseases. Yes, the Amazon is a notably important asset to the planet.
Carbon Storage in the Amazon Rainforest:
We have all heard of global warming, and whether you agree with the theory or not, it’s clear to understand that we as a species produce lots of carbon dioxide. Over the last 150 years, humans have been burning fossil fuels, employing coal, oil and gas, pumping myriad tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Trees are actual CO2 absorbers, they utilise it for photosynthesis, and then pump out lovely, clear oxygen.
The Amazon holds over 400 billion trees, which all consume humongous amounts of CO2 from the environment. So, if we were to lose the Amazon, the impacts of global warming would very soon become an immediate global problem.
The Global Changes on Amazon Rainforest:
The Amazon has a long history of human settlement, but in modern decades the pace of change has quickened due to an increase in the human population, the introduction of mechanized farming, and integration of the Amazon region into the global economy.
Vast quantities of goods produced in the Amazon, like cattle beef and leather, soy, timber, oil and gas, and minerals, to name a few are shipped today to China, Europe, the U.S., and other countries. This transformation has had substantial impacts on the Amazon.
Conversion for cattle grazing is the most prominent single direct driver of deforestation. In Brazil, more than 60 per cent of cleared land ends up as a field, most of which have low fertility, supporting less than one head per hectare. Across much of the Amazon, the main objective for cattle ranching is to set land claims, rather than produce beef or leather. But market-oriented cattle production has nonetheless extended rapidly during the past decade.
Industrial agricultural production, particularly soy farms, has also been an essential driver of deforestation since the early 1990s. However, since 2006, Brazil soy production has had a moratorium on new forest clearing for soy. The moratorium was a direct result of a Greenpeace campaign.
Mining, dams, subsistence agriculture, urban expansion, agricultural fires, and timber plantations also result in vital forest loss in the Amazon. Logging is the principal driver of forest disturbance and researches have shown that logged-over forests even when selectively harvested have a much greater likelihood of future deforestation. Logging roads grant a path to farmers and breeders to earlier inaccessible forest areas.
Deforestation isn’t the only cause the Amazon is changing. Global climate change is having major impacts on the Amazon rainforest. Higher temperatures in the tropical Atlantic lessen rainfall across large extents of the Amazon, making drought and progressing the susceptibility of the rainforest to fire.
Computer models recommend that if current rates of warming last, much of the Amazon could transition from rainforest to savanna, particularly in the southern parts of the region. Such a transfer could have dramatic economic and ecological consequences, including affecting rainfall that currently feeds countries that generate 70 per cent of South America’s GDP and triggering immense carbon emissions from forest die-off. These emissions could moreover worsen climate change.
Protecting the Amazon Rainforest:
While the burning of the Amazon rainforest is ongoing, the overall rate of deforestation rate in the region is decreasing, mostly due to the sharp decline in a forest clearing in Brazil since 2004.
Brazil’s declining deforestation rate has been associated with several factors, some of which it controls, some of which it doesn’t. Since 2000, Brazil has established the world’s largest chain of protected areas, the majority of which are established in the Amazon region.
Since 2004, the government has also had a deforestation mitigation program in place. This includes satellite monitoring, improved law enforcement, and financial considerations for respecting environmental laws. Furthermore, the private sector especially the logging, soy, and cattle industries are increasingly responsive to customer demand for less-damaging products.
Finally, the Brazilian Amazon has been the place of several innovative and ambitious economy experiments, ranging from jurisdictional commodity certification to indigenous-led Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) schemes to Norway’s billion-dollars performance-based payment for curtailing deforestation.