The Amazon rainforest is being ravaged by wildfires burning at record rates

A darkened skyline in São Paulo, Brazil, Aug. 19. Photo: Andre Lucas/picture alliance via Getty Images

The largest swaths of the Amazon rainforest, located in Brazil and Peru, are burning at the highest rates since records began in 2013 — an increase of 84% compared to the same period last year, according to INPE, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research.

What's happening: On Tuesday, "Inpe registered a new fire roughly every minute" across Brazil, the Wall Street Journal reports. 2019's sharp increase is largely due to illegal loggers "burning newly cleared land for cattle ranching and agricultural use," according to environmental experts.

The impact: In Brazil, São Paulo's skyline went dark 2 hours early on Monday as smoke from the Amazon fires spread to the Atlantic coast, as shown in data from the UN's World Meteorological Organization. Researchers said the blackened rainwater collected by São Paulo residents was caused by the Amazon's forest fires, per WSJ.

The big picture: The Amazon is losing more forest cover under Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who campaigned on using the land for new economic development. The Amazon is the largest and most biodiverse rainforest on the planet and plays an essential part in slowing global warming. 4.5 million acres of the rainforest have burned this year, NYT reports.

Go deeper: Brazil has lost 1,330 square miles of Amazon rainforest under Bolsonaro

What's next

1,200 new fires identified in Amazon region this week

A burned area after a fire in the Amazon Rainforest in Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil, on Saturday. Photo: Joao Laet/AFP/Getty Images

Some 1,200 new fires have been identified burning in the Amazon Rainforest region this week, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reported Saturday.

By the numbers: There have been 40,341 fires in the Amazon this year, per the New York Times. More than 1,330 square miles burned in the first 7 months of 2019. The largest swaths of the Amazon rainforest, in Brazil and Peru, are burning at the highest rates since records began in 2013 — a rise of 84% compared to the same period last year, according to INPE.

Go deeperArrowAug 25, 2019 - Science

Earth's lungs are burning

A charred trunk is seen on a tract of Amazon jungle that was recently burned by loggers and farmers in Brazil. Photo: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

The Amazon rainforest is burning faster than usual, it's most likely because of humans clearing land for agriculture, and it will make efforts to fight climate change harder if it doesn't stop fast.

Why it matters: "By one recent estimate, the trees of the Amazon rainforest pulled in carbon dioxide equivalent to the fossil fuel emissions of most of the nine countries that own or border the forest between 1980-2010," the BBC reported.

Go deeperArrowAug 22, 2019 - World

Bolsonaro demands apology from Macron before accepting $20 million in Amazon aid

France's President Emmanuel Macron and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro at the G20 Summit in Osaka in June. Photo: Jacques Witt/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has said he will only accept a $20 million aid package from G7 nations to fight fires in the Amazon rainforest if French President Emmanuel Macron apologizes, according to the AP.

The big picture: Macron and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have traded barbs on Twitter over the fate of the Amazon, which has seen an 84% increase in wildfires this year compared to 2018. Bolsonaro has described the offer of international help as a “colonialist mentality," while Macron has questioned the Brazilian president's commitment to environmentalism. Per the AP, Bolsonaro says Macron must take back some of his comments "and then we can speak."

Go deeperArrowAug 27, 2019 - World