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Source: istock

Your Biggest Questions About the Amazon Rainforest Fires, Answered

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The Amazon rainforest has been burning at record rates this year — with thousands of fires alone occurring in the past week. The world has suddenly woken up to the tragic fires tearing apart the rainforest, which can reportedly be seen from outer space, according to USA Today.

As the fires (and the news) continue to spread, people all over the world are left with questions about the fires, how they started, and why the Amazon rainforest is so important to the planet. Read on for our answers to a few of these key questions, and make sure to keep educating yourself on these issues as they continue to unfold.

Why Is the Amazon Rainforest on Fire?

Humans have clear-cut 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest over the past 50 years to produce beef, dairy, palm oil, paper products, wood, soybeans to feed livestock, and more. In fact, cattle ranching actually accounts for more than 80 percent of this deforestation, according to the WWF.

This deforestation interrupts the Amazon’s natural rain patterns, which reduces humidity and causes droughts. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Amazon actually used to be fire-resistant thanks to its high humidity — but now, with less humidity, less trees, and more droughts, the Amazon can more easily catch fire. 

And most interestingly, there's the possibility that people are purposely setting the rainforest on fire.