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Amazon forest fires: Germany stands ready to help

You might have heard about the massive wildfires that are burning in the Amazon rainforest at the present moment. The Amazon generates more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and 10% of the world’s known biodiversity. It is often referred to as the “lungs of the planet”, so when it is threatened, it becomes an international issue. Leaders around the world have expressed their concern about the fires, and on Friday, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas declared that Germany is ready to help.

“When the rainforest burns for weeks on end, then we cannot remain indifferent,” Minister Maas said. “We cannot allow fires to destroy the green lungs of the world. Protecting the unique natural heritage of the Amazon rainforest is an international task that concerns us all. Germany stands ready to offer help and support for tackling the fires.”

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes that the issue needs to be discussed at the upcoming G7 meeting, which is set to begin this weekend in the seaside town of Biarritz in France.

“The extent of the fires in the Amazon area is shocking and threatening, not only for Brazil and the other affected countries, but also for the whole world. This is because the rainforest is a higly important element in our global climate system,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. “When the G7 meets this weekend, then the Chancellor is convinced that this acute emergency of the Amazon rainforest belongs on the agenda.”

The G7 is made up of seven countries and their leaders, which include the United States, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Japan and the UK. The G7 meeting also includes leaders from other regions, such as the EU, China, India, Mexico and Brazil. The G7 emerged in the 1970s as an informal gathering of finance ministers concerned over the energy crisis at the time, but is now a regular occurrence to discuss world issues. The “Group of Seven” represent 58% of the global net wealth and are considered the seven largest advanced economies of the world, according to the IMF.

Throughout most of its history, the Amazon rainforest was relatively fire-resistant thanks to its natural moisture and humidity. Wildfires there today are caused by a combination of droughts and human activity; the intensity and frequency of droughts in turn, have been linked with increases in regional deforestation and anthropogenic climate change. In fact, the Amazon rainforest has experienced three major droughts, considered ‘once-in-a-century events’ in 2005, 2010, and in 2015-2016. ©dpa / picture alliance

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