Amazon Current Affairs - 2020

Deforestation of Amazon Forest: Highest in 5 years

On June 12, 2020, the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) announced that the increase in deforestation of Amazon forests has been the highest in 2019 as compared to last 5 years.

Highlights

The research institute has found that the deforestation has increased by 91 square kilo metre in 2019 as compared to 2018. In 2019, around 829 square kilo metres of forest has been deforested.

Key Findings

The research institute also noted the witness of Brazilian Government on deforestation. According to Brazilian Government, amazon rainforest faced deforestation record of 829 square kilometre in May, 2020. This is the highest monthly level deforestation since 2015.

Also, the Real Time Deforestation Detection System has alerted the authorities about the increase in rate of destruction of tropical rainforest in the region.

If the deforestation pace continues, in 2020, the deforestation could reach 11,900 square kilometres.

Why the increase?

Deforestation in the region has increased after President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019 according to conservation groups and environmental activists. According to Bolsonaro, mining and farming in the protected areas of Amazon forest were the only ways to lift the region out of poverty. His environmental policies have been widely condemned all over the world.

Also, the destruction of the forest by illegal ranchers and loggers increased by 55% between January 2020 and April 2020.

Police Use of Facial Recognition banned by Amazon

On June 11, 2020, the E-Commerce giant Amazon banned the use of its software “Rekognition” by the police. The software used to quickly compare a picture with the police data bases that holds hundreds of 1000s of photos.

Why the ban?

The facial recognition technology has been criticized over some time. This is mainly because, most of the algorithms of the Rekognition software are more likely to wrongly identify the faces of black people than those of white people.

Recognition

The Amazon Rekognition software was launched in 2016. It was sold and used by a number of US government agencies.

What is the controversy?

The Gender Identification technology of Rekognition software identifies faces as only male and female. There is no category for nonbinary gender. According to MIT researchers, the errors in the face recognition system is more. Though it is reducing year after year, the performance of the software on female faces were less accurate than that of male faces.