Dear readers, I wrote a feature article. One that is neither about my PhD work nor about any other astronomy topic. The feature focuses on the Amazon region, the major droughts that affected it in the last decade, and the sustainability of its rainforest. The article was written for Pulsámerica, “the Latin America news link”, and it is now fully available on their website. As a former astrophysicist turned would-be science journalist, I hope this article to be the first of many. Enjoy!
In April of 2008, the British explorer Ed Stafford started the seemingly impossible journey of walking the length of the Amazon River source to sea. A natural-born adventurer, Ed wanted to push his own limits to achieve a feat no one else had accomplished. But his aims weren’t only personal. The adventure also had the purpose of connecting people to the wonders of the Amazon region and raise awareness of its environmental problems.
The Amazon basin is bursting with life. It takes up an area bigger in size than the continental United States, of which two-thirds are covered by a lusty rainforest. ‘The lung of the world’, as the forest is called in some circles, produces about one-fifth of the planet’s oxygen and is home to a mind-boggling array of plants, animals and insects. But years of deforestation and recent changes in weather patterns are taking their toll on the Amazonia and its river. The latest environmental disaster came in the form of exceptional drought conditions that hit the region in 2010: a mere 5 years after another devastating dry spell.