European space agency records Amazon air pollution

1 / 2
A fire burns a tract of the Amazon jungle near the Xavante indigenous people's land in Pimentel Barbosa, Mato Grosso state, Brazil, on September 4, 2019. (REUTERS/Lucas Landau)
2 / 2
A fire burns a tract of the Amazon jungle in Agua Boa, Mato Grosso state, Brazil, on September 4, 2019. (REUTERS/Lucas Landau)
Updated 10 September 2019

European space agency records Amazon air pollution

  • Burning continues in the Amazon despite a 60-day ban on land-clearing fires
  • Research data showed the number of fires in all of Brazil has surpassed 100,000 so far this year

RIO DE JANEIRO: New satellite images published Monday by the European Space Agency show an increase in air pollution in the Brazilian Amazon while fires burned in the region last month.
Several maps showed more carbon monoxide and other pollutants in August than in the previous month, when there were fewer fires.
The agency said fires released carbon dioxide once stored in the Amazon forests back into the atmosphere, potentially having an impact on the global climate and health.
Burning continues in the Amazon despite a 60-day ban on land-clearing fires that was announced last month by President Jair Bolsonaro.
Data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research showed the number of fires in all of Brazil has surpassed 100,000 so far this year, up 45 percent compared to the same period in 2018.
Renata Libonati, a professor in the department of meteorology at the Rio de Janeiro Federal University, said that aside from gases, the burning of forests also released particles into the atmosphere.




This satellite combo image provided by European Space Agency shows levels of carbon monoxide pollution caused by the forest fires in the Amazon, between the second half of July 2019 and the first half of Aug. 2019. (European Space Agency via AP)

Health experts say studies show that air pollution, whether it is small particles or gases, leads to an increase in cardiovascular conditions and lung problems, especially among young children and the elderly.
In Porto Velho, the capital of Brazil’s Amazon state of Rondonia, lingering smoke has reportedly caused an increase in such respiratory problems. The number of people treated for respiratory issues increased sharply in August at the Cosme e Damia Children’s hospital.
But small particles can also be transported by winds in cities that are not immediately close to where the fires are taking place.
“The impact of the fires goes far beyond where the forests are burning,” Libonati told The Associated Press.
The lack of rain during the current dry season in the Amazon region makes things worse, she said, as rain can help stop the progress of particle pollution.




In this Sept. 3, 2019 photo, indigenous villagers listen to speakers during a meeting of Tembao tribes at the Tekohaw indigenous reserve, Para state, Brazil. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Brazil’s Health Ministry shared last week a list of recommendations for those living in areas close to the fires, saying people should “avoid staying near places where the fires are happening,” wear masks and eye protection outdoors and favor air conditioning, especially in kindergartens, schools and hospitals.
Last month, Bolsonaro sent the army to help combat the fires. A team of 11 Israeli firefighters was also deployed Sunday in the state of Rondonia to help state and federal forces, the defense ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile, in the Amazonian state of Para, about 250 illegal miners, known as “garimpeiros,” blocked a federal highway Monday demanding that the government legalize mining activities, the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported.
The group, working for wildcat mines in the region, also asked for an end to on-the-ground operations by environmental protection bodies that have the authority to burn equipment allegedly belonging to illegal miners.


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 15 September 2019

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.