The fires burning in Brazil’s Amazon this year have already produced as much carbon dioxide as the entire state of North Carolina generates in a year, according to researchers on Cape Cod.
The analysis, conducted by scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center and IPAM Amazonia, estimates that the fires have produced 104 to 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide already.
North Carolina generates 120 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, according to government figures.
Thought of in another way, that equates to the annual tailpipe emissions from at least 22 million cars.
Both research organizations say there are 60% more fires burning in the Brazilian Amazon this year, as compared to the last three years.
The fires have gained international headlines as governments from around the world work to address widespread environmental concerns in Brazil.
"It’s important to understand these aren’t wildfires of the sort we’re familiar with in the western U.S. The majority of the burning we’re seeing now is the end result of a months-long process that began with people cutting trees to clear the land for cattle grazing or growing crops. These cut trees were left to dry and only now are they being set on fire to finish the job of land clearing” said WHRC Associate Scientist Wayne Walker in a release outlining these findings."
"The consequences for the population are immense. Air pollution makes people sick, and the economic impact can be high," according to IPAM Senior Researcher and WHRC Distinguished Policy Fellow Paulo Moutinho. "Combating deforestation, which drives the fires, and discouraging the use of fire to clear land are critical to ensuring the health of both people and the forests."