Amazon Fire Wars Exacerbate Global Warming

NPR | November 5, 2007

By Christopher Joyce


In Brazil, it’s the end of the burning season, when people use fire to clear land for farms and ranches. But people also use fire as a weapon in range wars to push others off their land.


Scientists say this fire cycle is not just destroying parts of the Amazon’s southern forests, but altering the climate as well.


John Carter is in the middle of one of these range wars. He’s an American who has adopted Brazil as his home. He’s equally comfortable on a horse or in the cockpit of his Cessna three-seat airplane. At the moment, he’s flying above the southern edge the Amazon forest over his cattle ranch, Esperanza.


“On a normal year, you fly (during) the burning season, you can’t see a kilometer on either side of you,” Carter says. “You can’t see ground underneath, the smoke goes up to 10,000 or 15,000 feet. It’s a blanket of smoke that covers the Amazon, it’s unbelievable.”


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