臺大外語教學暨資源中心英語學習報第 370 期 發行日期 2019-09-15

本期焦點 More

  Amazon WildfireRead more on VOA.

AP Explains: Causes, Risks of Amazon Fires


Fires have been breaking out at an unusual pace in Brazil this year, causing global alarm over deforestation in the Amazon region. The world's largest rainforest is often called the "lungs of the earth." Here's a look at what's happening:

       今年(編按:2019 年)巴西(Brazil)的大火爆發(break out)後,就以異常的速度蔓延,造成全球對亞馬遜雨林(the Amazon)區森林濫伐(deforestation,註 1)問題的擔憂(alarm over . . .,註 2)。亞馬遜雨林是全球最大的熱帶雨林,素有「地球之肺(lungs of the earth)」的美名。一起來瞧瞧當地究竟發生了什麼事吧!


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◎ 英語自學認證資訊


◎ 線上菲律賓語課程


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AP Explains: Causes, Risks of Amazon Fires
VOA News|The Americas
August 23, 2019 05:25 PM Associated Press (source)

AP Explains: Causes, Risks of Amazon Fires


August 23, 2019 05:25 PM

Associated Press


Fires have been breaking out at an unusual pace in Brazil this year, causing global alarm over deforestation in the Amazon region. The world's largest rainforest is often called the "lungs of the earth." Here's a look at what's happening:

What's burning?

Brazil's National Space Research Institute, which monitors deforestation, has recorded 76,720 wildfires across the country this year, as of Thursday. That's an 85% rise over last year's figure. And a little over half of those, 40,341, have been spotted in the Amazon region.

The agency says it doesn't have figures for the area burned, but deforestation as a whole has accelerated in the Amazon this year. The institute's preliminary figures show 3,571 square miles (9,250 square kilometers) of forest — an area about the size of Yellowstone National Park — were lost between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1. That already outstrips the full-year figure for 2018 of 2,910 square miles (7,537 square kilometers).

Stricter enforcement of environmental laws between 2004 and 2014 had sharply curbed the rate of deforestation, which peaked in the early 2000s at 9,650 square miles a year (25,000 square kilometers).

Meanwhile, large fires also have been burning in neighboring countries such as Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.

What's causing the fires?

Paulo Moutinho, co-founder of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, said this week that "it is very difficult to have natural fires in the Amazon; it happens, but the majority come from the hand of humans." 

Moutinho, who has been working in the Amazon forests for nearly 30 years, said fires are mostly set to clear land for farming, ranching or logging, and they can easily get out of control, especially during the July-November dry season. Moutinho says this year hasn't been especially dry. "We're lucky. If we had had droughts like in the past four years, this would be even worse." 

Critics of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro say ranching and mining interests eager to expand their holdings have been emboldened by his oft-stated desire to increase development in the region.

How important is the Amazon?

The world's largest rainforest, 10 times the size of Texas, is often called the "lungs of the earth," and 60% of it lies within Brazil.

Trees store carbon absorbed from the atmosphere, and the Amazon each year takes in as much as 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

The Amazon's billions of trees also release water vapor that forms a thick mist over the rainforest canopy. It rises into clouds and produces rain, affecting weather patterns across South America and far beyond.

It's also home to an estimated 20% of Earth's plant species, many of which are found nowhere else.

"With each hectare burned we could be losing a plant or animal species that we didn't even know about," said Andre Guimaraes, director of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute.

What is the 'tipping point'?

Climate scientist Carlos Nobre of the University of Sao Paulo and Thomas Lovejoy, an environmental scientist at George Mason University, have estimated that the "tipping point for the Amazon system" is 20% to 25% deforestation. Without enough trees to create the rainfall needed by the forest, the longer and more pronounced dry season could turn more than half of the rainforest into a tropical savannah, they wrote last year in the journal Science Advances.

If the rainfall cycle collapses, winter droughts in parts of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina could devastate agriculture, they wrote. The impacts may even be felt as far away as the American Midwest, according to Bill Laurance, a tropical ecologist at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia.

Lovejoy said Friday that close to 20% of the Amazon already has been deforested.

"I worry that the current deforestation will push past the tipping point, leading to massive loss of forest and biodiversity," he said.

Lovejoy also said the government has proposed infrastructure projects that "would push yet further beyond and accelerate the dieback. It will add to the climate change challenge, massive loss of biodiversity and all that means in foregone human health and economic benefit." 

Bolsonaro's view

Bolsonaro took office on Jan. 1 after campaigning on promises to loosen protections for indigenous lands and nature reserves, arguing that they were helping choke Brazil's now-struggling economy by stifling its major agricultural and mining sectors.

He has expressed a desire to protect the environment, "but without creating difficulties for our progress." 

Bolsonaro has also feuded with nongovernmental groups and foreign governments, including Germany and France, which have demanded that Brazil do more to protect the Amazon. Bolsonaro calls it meddling by people who should improve the environment in their own countries. This week he even suggested, without evidence, that a nongovernmental organization or activists could be setting fires to make him look bad.

He has disputed figures released by the space research institute, and the agency's head recently was forced out after defending the figures.


今年(編按:2019 年)巴西(Brazil)的大火爆發(break out)後,就以異常的速度蔓延,造成全球亞馬遜雨林(the Amazon)區森林濫伐(deforestation,註 1)問題的擔憂(alarm over . . .,註 2)。亞馬遜雨林是全球最大的熱帶雨林,素有「地球之肺(lungs of the earth)」的美名。一起來瞧瞧當地究竟發生了什麼事吧!


巴西的國家太空研究中心(National Space Research Institute)長期監測(monitor,註 3)該國的濫墾濫伐情形,截至週四(編按:2019 年 8 月 22 日)為止,全國今年已有 7 萬 6720 件的野火事件,較去年增加 85%。其中的 4 萬 341 件,也就是為數超過一半的野火事件發生在亞馬遜雨林區。

研究中心表示,關於燒毀的面積目前還沒有確切的數據,但整體而言(as a whole),亞馬遜雨林今年出現砍伐速度加劇(accelerate,註 4)的現象。根據研究中心的初步(preliminary,註 5)數據,該區在今年 1 月 1 日至 8 月 1 日這段期間流失了 3571 平方英里(9250 平方公里)的森林,面積相當於美國黃石國家公園(Yellowstone National Park)的大小。這面積已超過(outstrip,註 6)去年(編按:2018 年)整年所流失的 2910 平方英里(7537 平方公里)。

2004 年與至 2014 年期間,由於環境法規的執行較嚴格,森林濫伐的速度明顯(sharply)受到了控制(curb,註 7)。當地森林濫墾速度曾於 2000 年代早期達到高峰(peak),每年墾伐面積達 9650 平方英里(2 萬 5000 平方公里)。



保羅.穆蒂尼奧(Paulo Moutinho)是亞馬遜環境研究中心(Amazon Environmental Research Institute)的共同創辦人。他於本週(編按:2019 年 8 月 18 日至 8 月 24 日)表示:「亞馬遜雨林區的火災很難由自然因素引起;儘管有時還是會發生,但大多數的火災都是人為因素而起。」

穆蒂尼奧在亞馬遜雨林區工作已近 30 年之久。他指出,該區大火的引燃多半是為了清理土地以便供農耕、放牧(ranching)伐木(logging)使用,火勢常一發不可收拾,尤其在每年 7 月至 11 月的乾旱期更是如此。穆蒂尼奧同時提到,今年還不算特別乾燥:「我們很幸運呢!如果像過去 4 年發生旱災(drought),那情況可能更糟。」

批評巴西總統雅伊爾.波索納洛(Jair Bolsonaro)的人(critic)認為,波索納洛經常提到(oft-stated)要增加亞馬遜雨林區的產業發展,這讓對放牧和採礦(mining,註 8)產業感興趣並且想增加財產持有的人受到鼓舞,因而在產業的開發上變得更大膽(embolden,註 9)了。


亞馬遜雨林又稱「地球之肺」,是全世界最大的熱帶雨林,占地為美國德州(Texas)的10倍大,其中 60% 的面積位在巴西境內。

林木會把從大氣中吸取的碳(carbon,C)儲存起來,而亞馬遜雨林每年吸取高達 20 億公噸(編按:一公噸等於 1000 公斤)的二氧化碳(carbon dioxide,CO2)。這種氣體即是導致全球暖化(global warming)溫室氣體(greenhouse gas)

亞馬遜雨林數十億的林木也會釋放水蒸氣(water vapor),在雨林的樹冠層(canopy,註 10)上方形成濃厚的霧氣。霧氣往上升後進入雲層裡並形成雨水,進而影響南美洲及其他區域的天氣型態。

亞馬遜雨林同時也孕育了地球約 20% 的植物物種,其中很多是該區的特有種。

「每燃燒掉一公頃的雨林,我們就有可能喪失掉一種根本來不及認識的植物或動物物種。」亞馬遜環境研究中心主任安德烈.吉馬良斯(Andre Guimaraes)敘述道。


巴西聖保羅大學(University of Sao Paulo)的氣候科學家卡洛斯.諾布爾(Carlos Nobre)與美國喬治梅森大學(George Mason University)的環境科學家湯瑪斯.洛維喬(Thomas Lovejoy)預估,當亞馬遜雨林砍伐的程度達 20% 至 25%,即是該區「生態系統的臨界點(tipping point)」。在缺乏足夠的林木,導致該區無法形成所需降雨量(rainfall)的情況下,時間延長且更加顯著(pronounced,註 11)的乾旱期可能把超過一半的雨林轉變成熱帶(tropical)稀樹草原(savannah,註12)。這些研究成果於去年發表在《科學進展》(Science Advances)期刊。

兩位科學家寫道,如果降雨循環崩壞(collapse,註 13),巴西、烏拉圭(Uruguay)、巴拉圭以及阿根廷某些地區的冬季乾旱可能會摧毀(devastate,註 14)當地農業。根據比爾.勞倫斯(Bill Laurance)的研究,即使是遠在美國中西部(Midwest)的地區,都可以感受到這些氣候改變所帶來的影響。勞倫斯是澳洲(Australia)凱恩斯市(Cairns)詹姆士庫克大學(James Cook University)的熱帶生態學家(ecologist)

洛維喬於週五(編按:2019 年 8 月 23 日)表示,近 20% 的亞馬遜雨林已遭砍伐殆盡。

他同時表達了對這個問題的憂慮:「我很擔心目前的森林濫伐將會超越臨界點,導致森林面積和生物多樣性(biodiversity,註 15)大量(massive)減少。」

洛維喬也指出,巴西政府提出的基礎建設(infrastructure,註 16)計畫有可能進一步加速林木枯死(dieback)。這會為人類帶來更多氣候變遷(climate change)的考驗,並且造成生物多樣性的大量流失,種種現象意味著人類必須因此放棄健康與經濟上的利益。


波索納洛於今年 1 月 1 日就任(take office)巴西總統。他在競選(campaign,註 17)期間曾允諾鬆綁(loosen,註 18)保護原始(indigenous,註 19)林地與自然保護區(nature reserve)的法規,認為這些法規會抑制(stifle,註 20)農耕和採礦產業(sector,註 21)的發展,使巴西目前困頓的經濟情勢雪上加霜。


波索納洛也非政府組織以及包括德國(Germany)和法國(France)在內的外國政府長期爭執(feud . . . with,註 22)不休,這些組織及政府皆強烈要求巴西必須採取更多行動來保護亞馬遜雨林。波索納洛認為遭到他國人民的干涉(meddle,註 23),而這些人民應該改善自己國家的自然環境。他甚至在沒有證據的情況下,於本週向眾人暗示,非政府組織或行動主義者有可能為了讓他難堪,於是縱火焚燒亞馬遜雨林。

他同時國家太空研究中心發表的數據提出質疑(dispute,註 24),而該中心的主任在最近為這些數據辯護後被迫離職(force . . . out)

〔編按:亞馬遜雨林大火相關資訊請參考 Deforestation – not the dry season – responsible for Amazon burning in 2019 一文以及 The New York Times – The Daily 的報導:Why the Amazon Is Burning?;亞馬遜雨林臨界點(tipping point)的相關資訊請參考 The Economists Podcasts 的報導:"Much of it would become a tropical savanna"—the Amazon's point of no return。〕

Language Notes

註 1: deforestation 為名詞,源於動詞 "deforest"「採伐 . . . . . . 的森林」;注意重音在第 4 音節

註 2: alarm 於本文為名詞,後常接介系詞片語 "about / at / over . . .",意即「對 . . . . . . 憂慮」;本字另常指「警報」、「警報器」或「鬧鐘」;也可作動詞,指「令 . . . . . . 擔心或害怕」;注意重音在第 2 音節

註 3: monitor 於本文為動詞;本字也可作名詞,常指「螢幕;顯示器」

註 4: accelerate 於本文指「加快」、「加劇」;本字另常見意思為「促進;增加;提前」;注意重音在第 2 音節

註 5: preliminary 注意重音在第 2 音節

註 6: outstrip 注意重音在第 2 音節

註 7: curb 於本文為動詞;本字也可作名詞,意即「控制;抑制;限制」

註 8: mining 源於動詞 "mine"「採,開採 . . . . . .」

註 9: embolden 由字首 "em-"「使成為 . . . . . .」、形容詞 "bold"「勇敢的;大膽的」與動詞字尾 "-en"「使 . . . . . .」組成

註 10: canopy 於本文指「樹冠層」;本字另常見意思為「頂篷;罩篷」

註 11: pronounced 注意重音在第 2 音節

註 12: savannah 另一拼法為 "savanna";注意重音在第 2 音節

註 13: collapse 於本文為動詞;本字也可作名詞,包含「崩潰;瓦解;失敗」與「昏倒,昏迷;(建築物的)倒塌,坍塌」等意;注意重音在第 2 音節

註 14: devastate 於本文指「摧毀」;本字也可指「使 . . . . . . 極為震驚」;相關形容詞為 "devastating"「毀滅性的;破壞性極大的」

註 15: biodiversity 由字首 "bio-"「生命的;生物的」與名詞 "diversity"「多樣性;多樣化」組成;注意重音在第 4 音節

註 16: infrastructure 由字首 "infra-"「在下面」與 "structure"「大型建築物」組成;注意重音在第 1 音節

註 17: campaign 於本文為動詞;本字也常作名詞,意即「專門活動;競選運動」或「戰役;作戰」;注意重音在第 2 音節

註 18: loosen 由動詞 "loose"「鬆開」與動詞字尾 "-en"「使 . . . . . .」組成

註 19: indigenous 指「當地的;原始的」;本字也可指「與生俱來的;固有的;內在的」;注意重音在第 2 音節

註 20: stifle 於本文指「抑制;阻止」;本字另常見意思為「(使)窒息;悶住」

註 21: sector 於本文指「產業;行業」;本字亦有「部門;領域」、「扇形;扇形面」及「(軍事)防區」等意

註 22: feud 於本文為動詞,後常接介系詞片語 "with . . .",意指「與 . . . . . . 長期爭鬥」;本字也可作名詞,指「世仇;長期不和」

註 23: meddle 後常接介系詞片語 "in / with . . .",意即「對 . . . . . . 干涉」

註 24: dispute 於本文為動詞,注意重音在第 2 音節;本字也可作名詞,指「爭論;爭執;糾紛」,重音可在第 1 或第 2 音節


Check your comprehension!

Choose the BEST answer to each of the questions below. After you finish, highlight the parentheses to reveal the hidden answers.

1. ( B ) According to the article, what can be a possible reason to account for the unusual pace of the fire outbreak in Brazil?
            (A) Global warming. 
            (B) Deforestation. 
            (C) El Niño. 
            (D) Solar activity.  
2. ( C ) What will happen if the Amazon region reaches the tipping point?
            (A) Extreme weather events will be less perceived in the near future.   
            (B) The local economy will fluctuate and become unstable.    
            (C) The Earth's biodiversity will be devastatingly affected.   
            (D) The global economy will be stimulated and become burgeoning.  
3. ( A ) What can be inferred about President Bolsonaro's attitude toward nongovernmental groups and foreign governments' demand?
            (A) Skeptical and resentful. 
            (B) Open-minded and appreciative  
            (C) Ashamed and remorseful.  
            (D) Undisturbed and nonchalant.  

編譯:外語教學暨資源中心 編輯小組