RIGHT NOW the Amazon rainforest is burning at a record rate and scientists warn that it could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change.
There have been 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, with more than half in the Amazon region, INPE said. That's more than an 80% increase compared with the same period last year.
The Amazon is often referred to as the planet's lungs, producing 20% of the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere.
It is considered vital in slowing global warming, and it is home to uncountable species of fauna and flora. Roughly half the size of the United States, it is the largest rainforest on the planet.
The smoke has reached all the way to Sao Paulo, more than 1,700 miles away. Images from the city show the sky pitch-black in the middle of the afternoon, the sun blanketed by smoke and ash.
More than 1½ soccer fields of Amazon rainforest are being destroyed every minute of every day.
If the Amazon reaches a point of no return, the rainforest could become a dry savannah, no longer habitable for much of its wildlife. If this happens, instead of being a source of oxygen, it could start emitting carbon -- the major driver of climate change.
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