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Amazon fires a huge concern

Opinion Piece

The sight of large tracts of the Amazon rainforest burning cast a pall both literally and figuratively in the past week, although for sports fans Lisa Carrington and Tom Walsh brought a brighter end to the week.

Often described as the lungs of the world, the Amazon is understood by scientists to be crucial to climate control.

It absorbs 2.1 billion tonnes of carbon and is often said to supply about 20 percent of the world’s oxygen — although that common misconception was debunked last week, with academics saying the figure is actually less than 10 percent because so much oxygen on Earth is produced by plankton.

This is the dry season when fires always occur, but this year the number is estimated by the National Institute of Space Research to have increased by 85 percent.

Many of the fires are being started by farmers and loggers who were encouraged by Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro, a self- avowed admirer of Donald Trump who pledged to limit the fines for damaging the rainforest and at first downplayed how serious they were.

After being forced to change his mind, he brought in the armed forces. But is it too little too late?

Long term some agreement must be reached over the Amazon, which contains more than half of the world’s rainforest and is home to almost half of the world’s endangered plants and animals.

There was really good news for sports fans from the amazing Carrington who won her seventh successive K1 200 metres in Hungary at the weekend. Paddling into a slight head wind, she finished more than two seconds ahead of Poland’s Marta Walczkiewcz, the runner up in the past two finals.

This is Carrington’s seventh world title in succession for her and the next day she topped it off by winning the K1 500 metres. She now has 17 world championship medals, 10 of them gold.

Meanwhile, in a Diamond league meeting in Paris, Tom Walsh really gave it a heave with an opening throw of 22.44 metres, the best in the world this year. Two of his further three throws would also have been enough to win.

Walsh and Carrington are true champions who perhaps deserve even more credit than they receive.