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"A picture is worth a thousand words" is one of the dumbest aphorisms ever coined. Speaking as a former television producer, I'd say a picture takes a thousand words to explain. Take this much-circulated NASA satellite photo showing vast smoke plumes over the Amazon region:
Combined with a report from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research that says the agency had detected 39,194 fires in the region, a 77 percent jump up from the same period in 2018, that picture has launched alarmed headlines around the world.
"Amazon rainforest is burning at an unprecedented rate," declares CNN. The Daily Beast gives us "Record Number of Wildfires Burning in Amazon Rainforest." Here's NBC News: "Amazon wildfires could be 'game over' for climate change fight."
Interestingly, when NASA released the satellite image on August 21, it noted that "it is not unusual to see fires in Brazil at this time of year due to high temperatures and low humidity. Time will tell if this year is a record breaking or just within normal limits."
So why are there so many fires? "Natural fires in the Amazon are rare, and the majority of these fires were set by farmers preparing Amazon-adjacent farmland for next year's crops and pasture," soberly explains The New York Times. "Much of the land that is burning was not old-growth rain forest, but land that had already been cleared of trees and set for agricultural use."
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