This year’s rainforest fires — along with international outrage — moved Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Thursday the 22nd to declare a 60-day moratorium on clearing fires. But it may be too late, according to scientists who monitor the Amazon and its life-sustaining, carbon-trapping flora. Although some experts disagree, these researchers say that a combination of fire-cleared areas and higher temperatures are changing weather patterns and reducing rain. What might that cause? It could prompt the remaining forest to die off and release 100 billion tons of carbon — the equivalent of six years’ worth of emissions from the world’s coal-fired power plants.
As the Amazon Burns, Indonesia Shows World How to Fight Forest Fires
Jakarta, Aug.26.– The warning signs are visible on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. It’s the heart of the dry season, and drought — accentuated by a moderate El Niño — is sparking fears of a repeat of 2015, when the climate pattern that leads to above-normal sea-level temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean contributed to devastating fires. The blazes charred 2.6 million hectares of land, emitted more daily carbon dioxide than the entire U.S. economy and left millions sick from a haze that spread across Southeast Asia. But this year there’s something different — something that Indonesia is counting on and that the world will closely watch.
Since 2015, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has implemented policies aimed at addressing root causes of fires, such as deforestation and poor management of peatlands. This includes creating a peatland restoration agency, fining companies and individuals responsible for fires, extending a deforestation moratorium and strengthening local enforcement and firefighting capabilities.
There’s early evidence that these steps are making a difference. The number of hot spots — areas with significantly higher temperatures than neighboring areas — is decreasing dramatically. There were 2,400 hot spots detected in the first nine months of 2017 in Indonesia, a 32 percent decline from the same period in 2016 ...
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