The plight of the Amazon rainforest has been the talk of the town in the past few days. In the wake of the devastation by the massive forest fire, many have joined together to pray for the forest. The likes of Juventus star, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and tennis world number 1, Novak Djokovic led the tributes.

The northern states of Roraima, Acre, Rondônia and Amazonas have been particularly badly affected. Brazil has seen a record number of fires in 2019, Brazilian space agency data suggests.

The National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) says its satellite data shows an 85% increase on the same period in 2018.

According to official figures, more than 75,000 forest fires were recorded in Brazil within the first eight months of 2019, which is a scary statistic in itself.

Thought-provokingly, forest fires are common in the Amazon jungles, particularly during the dry season between July and October. They can be caused by naturally occurring events, such as by lightning strikes, but also by farmers and loggers clearing land for crops or grazing.

Cristiano Ronaldo and a number of other sporting personalities tweeted about the catastrophe and prayed for the major hit to the environment

The fires have been releasing a large cloud of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to 228 megatonnes. This frightening fact was discovered by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (Cams).

In addition to that, there are also carbon monoxide emissions, as the burning wood is unable to have much access to oxygen.

Maps from Cams revealed that the carbon monoxide, which is toxic at high levels, is being carried beyond South America’s coastlines.

What is tragic about the fires is that the Amazon basin is home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people. It’s role is crucial to regulating global warming, with its forests absorbing millions of tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

However, when trees are cut or burned, the carbon they are storing is released back into the atmosphere and the rainforest’s capacity to absorb carbon emissions is reduced.

Studies at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (Ipam) revealed that the recent increase in the number of fires in the Amazon is the result of deliberate deforestation.

Admittedly, the scale of deforestation in the rainforest will only be determined at the end of the year. However, with this massive inferno raging, preliminary data will likely suggest a significant rise.

The National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) tracks suspected deforestation in real-time using satellite data, sending out alerts to flag areas that may have been cleared.