Friday, October 1, 2010

Bolivia's drought and fires worsen

Earthweek: Bolivia’s worst drought in 30 years has sparked nearly 50,000 wildfires over the past few months, creating health problems and even disrupting air traffic.

“The drought has kindled these massive, widespread blazes and estimates tell us they will continue until December,” Bolivian Forest and Lands Authority president Cliver Rocha told state media.

President Evo Morales and several government officials have said that some of the fires were intentionally ignited, but blame climate change for the conditions that allowed them to spread to such a great extent….

From NASA: The fires are outlined in red. Most of the fires are concentrated in Bolivia, where the governments of two states had declared a state of emergency because of widespread fires three days earlier. Scores of fires also burn in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The fires cloak the heart of South America in gray-white smoke. Spreading north and south along the east side of the Andes Mountains, the smoke extends over the entire 2,500-kilometre length of the image. While some fires do occur naturally in Bolivia, most of these fires were probably set deliberately to clear land for crops or pasture.

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