Crossposted at Daily Kos, European Tribune and My Left Wing
They say when it rains, it pours… except not in the Brazilian tropical rainforest. Today we get this piece from The Independent. (Pictures and captions from Greenpeace).
A small stream runs through what was once a huge lake. In an area used to ample rainfall a drought as severe as this in the Amazon basin is having dramatic and devastating effects on the wildlife and people of this unique region. The mighty Amazon River is being reduced to a trickle in places, grinding the entire region to a halt. The people of the Amazon rely on the river and its many tributaries for everything from food to transportation.
More below the fold…
Scientists have discovered that previous satellite photographs of the Amazon have missed a form of surreptitious logging that is equally destructive, but not as apparent from space.
Now a team of American and Brazilian specialists have for the first time been able to assess from space the damage done by “selective logging”, when one or two trees are removed leaving surrounding trees intact.
Images continue to show that the sheer scale of this environmental disaster is unparalled.
Illegal deforestation and land grabbing (grilagem) in the Middle Land, State of Pará.
“With this new technology, we are able to detect openings in the forest canopy down to just one or two individual trees,” he said. Conventional satellite images have revealed that an area of about 5,800 square miles of the Amazon rainforest is burnt or cleared each year to make way for cattle ranching, farming or other development.
However, when the scientists used the new satellite technique to estimate the area being destroyed by selective logging they found it was comparable – indicating that the overall rate of destruction was twice as high as previously thought.
The total volume of carbon released into the atmosphere as a result of selective logging between 1999 and 2002 is between about 10 and 15 million tons, the scientists estimated. This represents a 25 per cent increase in the overall flow of carbon from the Amazonian forests into the atmosphere.
And new studies are a major slap in the face to George Bush and his Administration’s “Healthy Forests Initiative”, a government program that used America’s tragic fires of 2002 as an excuse to rape this country’s forests and reward corporate logging companies for their generous donations.
Studies of area subjected to selective logging have revealed that light penetrates to the understory and dries out the forest floor, making it vulnerable to fires.
This fire was set by soya farmers to clear forest in 2003. But now wildfires are taking hold in the unusually dry forest and destroying thousands of hectares of forest. Smoke rising from huge fires has periodically closed airports in the region.
The story goes on to state how scientists have confirmed the extent of the environmental disaster:
To make sure their assessments were correct, the scientists went out into the field to compare their satellite data to what they could observe from the ground.
The findings confirmed their worst suspicions – that conventional satellite photography has missed about half of the damage caused by illegal logging.
Please visit one of the following organizations to find out more: