In a week when world leaders are meeting in New York to discuss solutions to climate change, it's important to note that power-plant smokestacks and automobile engines aren't the only contributors to global warming.
As Scientific American notes, destruction of tropical rainforests accounts for about 15 percent of the planet's carbon emissions. When trees are felled for timber or to clear land for farming, the carbon that the forests absorb and store is released into the atmosphere.
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That's why it's alarming to see this photo taken in August by NASA astronauts on the International Space Station, which shows multiple fires raging in South America's Amazon rainforest, where for years farmers have been burning down trees to clear land. According to NASA Earth Observatory, the image shows a pall of smoke rising over scorched areas following the route of a Brazilian highway.
The image also reveals the progression over time of forest destruction, from the already heavily deforested state of Mato Grosso in the top of picture, southward into Pará, which is rapidly burning down its wooded areas as well.
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Even more disheartening: In recent years, Brazilian authorities have reported significant progress in deterring destruction of the rain forest. But the BBC reported last month that deforestation is on the rise again, and that the rate of trees being destroyed increased by 28 percent between 2012 and 2013. According to Vice, police in Pará recently announced the arrest of six members of a gang that had destroyed vast stretches of forest, and issued arrest warrants for 14 others.
Meanwhile, the indigenous Ka'apor people have taken matters into their own hands, setting up monitoring camps in the forest and forcibly detaining illegal loggers. In this visual essay by photojournalist Lunae Parracho, native warriors are seen tying up the transgressors, beating them and setting fire to their trucks.