The Guardian • Issue #2076


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2076

Thick smoke enveloped extensive areas of the Brazilian Amazon as the region grapples with a surge in wildfires and a historic drought. In Manaus, a city of 2 million, air quality ranked among the worst globally, leading to the suspension of college classes and the cancellation of various activities, including an international marathon. In the first 11 days of October, Amazonas state recorded over 2700 fires. This is already the highest number for the month since official monitoring began in 1998. Virtually all fire is human-caused, primarily for deforestation or pasture clearance. Over the past weeks, Manaus and other cities of Amazonas state have intermittently been blanketed by thick smoke, making it difficult to breathe. The city’s air quality index fluctuated between unhealthy and hazardous levels, resembling the conditions in some major Asian metropolitan areas. The city’s major universities cancelled all activities, while the city’s marathon was postponed for two months. Normally, October marks the start of the rainy season. However, the warming of the northern Atlantic Ocean’s waters has disrupted the flow of rain clouds. Another contributing factor is El Niño, a warming of the surface waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which is expected to peak in December. Many of the Amazon’s major rivers are currently at historically low levels, disrupting navigation and isolating hundreds of riverine communities. In Tefe Lake, the heated and shallow waters likely caused the deaths of dozens of river dolphins. Most were pink dolphins, an endangered species.

CRIME OF THE WEEK: Israel’s war on the Palestinians has infallible eyewitnesses to the crime. The following is a message from Doctors Without Borders (Medecines Sans Frontieres) International President Dr Christos Christou on the crisis in Gaza

Mass killing of civilians is sickening and must be condemned in all possible terms. Horrific violence has been wreaked over the last 10 days. Thousands of men, women and children have been killed in Israel. Thousands of men, women and children have been killed in Palestine. The situation today in Gaza is catastrophic. Hospitals and clinics that are still running are overwhelmed and are barely functioning. They are running out of electricity and medical supplies. Surgeons in Al-Shifa hospital are now operating without painkillers. As a surgeon myself, this is unimaginable. Hospitals and clinics have been attacked. Others receive orders to evacuate – with just a couple of hours’ notice – with impossible decisions to make. Patients – including those in critical condition – risk their lives either by moving, or by staying behind, in both cases perhaps to die without treatment. The bombing right now in Gaza is relentless. People have been killed while forced to move, looking for safety. People are trapped, unable to escape, with absolutely nowhere safe to go. They’re deprived of essential needs – water, food, protected shelter, medicines. This is unimaginable. This is inhumane. The indiscriminate bombing must stop. The egregious level of collective punishment currently being meted out on the people of Gaza must end.

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