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Amazon Rainforest Fires May Increase Glacier Melting: Study

Amazon fires may enhance glacier melting

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Researchers have found that burning of the rainforest in southwestern Amazonia may enhance glacier melting. Pixabay

Researchers have found that burning of the rainforest in southwestern Amazonia (the Brazilian, Peruvian and Bolivian Amazon) may increase the melting of tropical glaciers in the Andes, South America.

For the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, researcher Newton de Magalhães Neto and colleagues from Rio de Janeiro State University, Brazil, modelled the possible effect of biomass burning in the Amazon Basin on the Bolivian Zongo Glacier using data collected between 2000 and 2016 on fire events, the movement of smoke plumes, precipitation and glacier melting.

They found that aerosols from biomass burning, such as black carbon, can be transported by wind to tropical Andean glaciers.

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Tropical glaciers in the Andes, South America are affected by the Amazon fires. Pixabay

There they are deposited in snow and have the potential to increase glacier melting as snow that is darkened by black carbon or dust particles reflects less light (reduced albedo).

Focusing their analyses on the years 2007 and 2010 when fire seasons were the most critical for the Amazon Basin, the authors investigated the snow albedo reduction due to black carbon alone and black carbon in the presence of previously reported quantities of dust.

Their model showed that black carbon or dust alone had the potential to increase annual glacier melting by three to four per cent; or by six per cent when both were present.

If dust concentrations were high, dust alone had the potential to increase annual melting by 11-13 per cent and by 12-14 per cent in the presence of black carbon.

The findings suggest that the impact of Amazon biomass burning depends on the dust content in snow.

Pressure related to global food demand may result in further expansion of Brazilian agriculture and deforestation, resulting in enhanced black carbon and CO2 emissions that may impact Andean glaciers.

In September 2019, seven South American countries have agreed measures to protect the Amazon river basin, amid concerns over fires in the world’s largest tropical forest.

Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname signed a pact, setting up a disaster response network and satellite monitoring.

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Black carbon or dust alone had the potential to increase annual glacier melting. Pixabay

The Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming, and 60 per cent of it is located in Brazil.

The number of fires between January and August 2019 is double that of the same period last year, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research (Inpe).

Several international retailers have said they are suspending purchases of Brazilian leather because of the links between cattle ranching and the fires devastating parts of the Amazon rainforest.

Also Read- Air Pollution Identified as a Life-threatening Illness: Study

Earlier in August, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has rejected a $22 million aid package offered by G7 countries to help battle fierce forest fires in the Amazon rainforest. (IANS)

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Amazon Employees Risk Their Jobs by Criticizing Amazon’s Record on Climate Change

Workers Criticize Amazon on Climate Despite Risk to Jobs

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Amazon employees
Employees walk through a lobby at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle. VOA

Hundreds of employees are openly criticizing Amazon’s record on climate change despite what they say is a company policy that puts their jobs at risk for speaking out.

On Sunday, more than 300 employees of the online retail giant signed their names and job titles to statements on blog post on Medium. The online protest was organized by a group called Amazon Employees For Climate Justice, an advocacy group founded by Amazon workers that earlier this month said the company had sent letters to its members threatening to fire them if they continued to speak to the press.

“It’s our moral responsibility to speak up, and the changes to the communications policy are censoring us from exercising that responsibility,” said Sarah Tracy, a software development engineer at Amazon, in a statement.

Amazon employees at the company logistics centre in Boves
The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France. VOA

Amazon said that its policy on external communications is not new and is in keeping with other large companies. It said the policy applies to all Amazon employees and is not directed at any specific group.

“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside the company that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” according to a spokesperson from the company.

Amazon, which relies on fossil fuels to power the planes, trucks and vans that ship packages all over the world, has an enormous carbon footprint. And its workers have been vocal in criticizing some of the company’s practices.

Also Read- Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

Last year, more than 8,000 staffers signed an open letter to CEO and founder Jeff Bezos demanding that it cut its carbon emissions, end its use of fossil fuels and stop its work with oil companies that use Amazon’s technology to locate fossil fuel deposits.

The company said in a statement that it is passionate about climate change issues and has already pledged to become net zero carbon by 2040 and use 100% renewable energy by 2030. (VOA)