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Amazon fires have potential to affect the Midwest

Weather and rainfall patterns could change
Posted at 6:51 PM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 19:51:26-04

OMAHA, Neb. — Some say that if the Earth was a body, the lungs would belong in the Amazon rain forest.

"It's a major part of the lungs of the planet. So just like our own lungs, if we have a large part of it that's not functioning properly, then that affects our whole body," Creighton professor and chair of the Sierra Club Nebraska Chapter, David Corbin said.

The Amazon is not functioning properly because record fires have taken over the rain forest. While some fires happen naturally, experts say these fires were most likely man-made.

"The bulk of the evidence is actually pointing towards strategic or purposeful burning of the land by people," University of Nebraska at Omaha professor Zachary Suriano said.

"This year is exceptional and it's because they're clearing forests for farmland or for ranching," Corbin added.

And even though the problem seems far away, it may be closer than you think. Paul Wenninghoff owns Wenninghoff Farms in Northwest Omaha. He's been a farmer his whole life.

"Yeah, it's in the blood," he said.

Experts say what's happening in the Amazon right now has the potential to affect weather and rainfall patterns in the Midwest and all around the world.

"One thing we know in environment is everything on Earth is connected to every other thing," Corbin said.

"There is strong evidence though that one of the greatest concerns in the long-term in the removal of the amazon forest is its ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. For us in the Midwest, more CO2 in the atmosphere, a warmer environment, that's expected to bring more variable weather," Suriano said.

Variable weather could mean more flooding. This is turn can affect Nebraska's agriculture and the livelihoods of farmers like Paul.

"It can impact people who never thought it would impact them," he said.