SÃO JOSÉ DOS CAMPOS, BRAZIL — The Amazon used to be praised as our planet's lungs, absorbing a lot of Earth's carbon dioxide.
However, things are going very wrong in the Amazon, and it's now emitting a lot more carbon dioxide than it can absorb.
Here are the details: The Guardian reports that scientists have recently confirmed that the Amazon rainforest is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it is able to absorb, and its emissions amount to a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
The giant forest had previously been a carbon sink, absorbing the airborne carbon that is driving the climate crisis.
Sadly, the Amazon is now causing the acceleration of the climate crisis, researchers said.
Most of the emissions are caused by fires, many deliberately set to clear land for beef and soy production.
But even without fires, hotter temperatures and droughts mean the southeastern Amazon has become a source of CO2, rather than a sink.
The scientists said the discovery that part of the Amazon was emitting carbon even without fires was particularly worrying.
They said it was most likely the result of each year's deforestation and fires making adjacent forests more susceptible the next year.
The trees produce much of the region's rain, so fewer trees means more severe droughts and heatwaves, which cause more tree deaths and fires.
The study's lead researcher said: "The first very bad news is that forest burning produces around three times more CO2 than the forest absorbs.
The second bad news is that the places where deforestation is 30 percent or more, show carbon emissions 10 times higher than where deforestation is lower than 20 percent."