The day the internet broke: Hundreds of websites worldwide go DOWN – with UK government, Spotify, Netflix and Amazon all affected



Hundreds of websites worldwide crashed this morning following a massive internet outage – with the UK government, Amazon and Spotify among those experiencing issues. 

Millions of users across the globe reported problems trying to access web pages, with Netflix, Twitch and news websites including the BBC, Guardian, CNN and the New York Times hit by the problem.

Passengers desperately trying to fill out passenger locator forms on UK.Gov to enter the UK from Portugal and abroad were also affected by the outage.

Some websites appeared to be gradually coming back online shortly before midday, but with slow loading times. 

The problem was caused by the US firm Fastly, a content delivery network (CDN) company which helps users view digital content more quickly. 

Fastly’s technology requires it to sit between its clients and their users, meaning that if the service suffers a failure, it can prevent those companies from operating on the net at all. 

Many of the world’s biggest websites run on the edge cloud platform’s network, hence the mass outage. 

Fastly first posted an error message at 10.58 BST (05.58 ET), saying it was ‘investigating potential impact to performance with out CDN services’.

It later tweeted shortly after midday UK time: ‘We identified a service configuration that triggered disruptions across our POPs globally and have disabled that configuration. 

‘Our global network is coming back online.’ 

Users took to social media to vent their frustrations about the outage.

One called it an ‘internet apocalypse’, while another said ‘everything just shut out of nowhere’.

Another tweeted that the internet was ‘broken’.

The outage saw visitors to a vast array of sites receive error messages including ‘Error 503 Service Unavailable’ and ‘connection failure.’ 

Some sites including the UK government website were offline entirely, while others such as Twitter had more specific errors, such as not showing emoji.

Travelling Britons revealed their frustration this morning at not being able to complete their passenger locator form because the Gov.UK website was down. 

Among them was Priya Bhargava from London, who tweeted: ‘@GOVUK hello your website is down I need to submit a passenger locator form by this eve. Pls can this get looked at ASAP. Thanks!!!’

Another, Jo Thornhill, tweeted: ‘@GOVUK your website is down and I need to complete a passenger locator form ASAP.’

And a third, Richard Pearson, from Nottingham, said: ‘Need to fill out passenger locator forms to return to the uk but http://gov.uk is down so I can’t. Great.’

Passenger locator forms are required by British border officials for those returning from all countries abroad. 

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Premier League agrees three-year renewal of TV broadcasting deal with Amazon, BBC, BT and Sky


he Premier League has reached an agreement with UK broadcasters to rollover its existing TV deal for a further three years.

The deal, which sees Sky, Amazon, BBC and BT share broadcast rights for matches in the UK, will run from 2022 through to 2025.

More to follow.

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How Amazon Paid Unwitting Civilians to Make Alexa Smarter


Jeff Bezos first sketched out the device that would become the Amazon Echo on a conference room whiteboard in early 2011. He wanted it to cost $20 and be controlled entirely by voice. Its brains would live in the cloud, exploiting the company’s Web Services offerings and allowing Amazon to constantly improve it without requiring owners to upgrade their hardware.

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These $16 Outdoor String Lights Have 23,490 5-Star Reviews on Amazon – E! Online


Here’s what reviewers are saying:

“I have ordered 4 boxes of these light sets now, the 25ft. I might just get the longer strand at this point. I love love love these lights.”

“Beautiful lights! It’s nice that the lights start right at the beginning of the string so there isn’t a bunch of dead space between the plug and when the lights start, so you really are getting a full 25ft of lighted string.”

“These were the perfect touch for our covered patio! The lights are not too bright but just enough to set the mood without needing a dimmer. Just what we wanted! Set-up wasn’t too bad. I added a 15 foot outdoor extension cord since my power source is located towards the surface and paired it with a smart outlet so that I can control the lights with Alexa or my phone.”

“I was nervous these would be cheap and flimsy because of the price- I’m glad to be wrong about that! The bulbs are glass, so I recommend hanging the lights before screwing in the bulbs, or screwing them in as you go. As it was, we ended up breaking two lights when we hung them, but that was fine because it came with four extras.”

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Antonio Sena’s plane crashed in the Amazon rainforest. The next 36 days made him Brazil’s hero


Antonio Sena was 3,000 feet in the air, 242 kilometres from the nearest town, with nothing but the rainforest stretching around him in all directions, when his plane’s engine stopped cold.

It was supposed to be a four-day trip, ferrying 600 litres of diesel fuel from the town of Alenquer to a gold mine called California, tucked away in the Maicuru reserve. The spot was so isolated that Antonio needed a practice run the day before to locate the airstrip.

He wouldn’t normally agree to work with the so-called garimpeiros — wildcat miners who doubled their production last year, profiting off the pandemic’s price spikes in precious metals.

Flying for them is technically legal, but their mining operations are not.

With little repercussion from the Brazilian government, the garimpeiros destroy an area equivalent to 10,000 soccer pitches every year, a sizable puncture to the earth’s lungs. The mercury used to separate gold seeps into rivers and food chains, a poison that last for years.

Wildcat miners destroy wide stretches of rain forest with little regulation. (

Reuters: Nacho Doce

)

And then there’s the risk.

In a decade as a pilot, Antonio had navigated dust storms in Chad and downpours in Brazil, but he’d never said yes to the miners. He’d heard too many stories like that of Clinger Borges do Valé, who walked away from 11 garimpeiro flights, only to see three of his brothers lost to the same business.

But the pandemic closed Antonio’s restaurant and reduced commercial flying hours. For 10 hours of work, he could make enough to pay some bills, roughly $BRL 3,000 ($750).

Now, Antonio was not flying but gliding, hearing the rush of wind where the whirr of an engine should be. The gauges showed no fuel flowing.

He took a deep breath, called mayday on his radio and tried twice to revive the small aircraft.

Then he began looking for the safest place to crash-land in the densest jungle on earth.

Emergency landings were a mandatory flight school topic

A man with a beard and a woman with long brown hair smile at the camera
Thiago and Mariana said Antonio had always been active and adventurous. (

Supplied: Thiago Sena 

)

“He’s always been very adventurous,” said Antonio’s sister, Mariana. “It was common to have him in trouble when he was a kid — a broken arm from falling off the neighbour’s roof, climbing up a tree, bike accidents.

“As the oldest, it always pissed me off. I wanted to control him, to protect him.”

As an adult, he’d spend his weekends outdoors — playing soccer, wakeboarding or camping with his younger brother, Thiago.

The decision to become a pilot didn’t come as a surprise to either of his siblings. They sold a chunk of land to help pay for his license. Mariana gave him free room and board during his studies.

She’d walk by his desk sometimes and overhear him studying up on black boxes or jungle survival skills. Those moments made her nervous and only intensified as his career took off.

In 2015, he performed a successful emergency landing with 24 passengers on board following an engine failure.

Scanning the horizon, Antonio spotted palm trees

A small opening in the canopy revealed a patch of palm trees. The slender giants normally live near water. They’re also somewhat soft, or at least as supple as a tree can be.

 A man in a black shirt and baseball hat poses for a selfie in front of a plane
Antonio snapped this selfie of himself with the Cessna 210 aircraft he crash landed. (

Supplied: Fatima Amara

)

As the ground toward him, the first tree hit the belly of the plane with a thud. Then came the second. By the third, the cockpit was overcome by noise and confusion.

When Antonio opened his eyes, he was pinned between his seat and the instrument panel, with bits of cargo debris lying everywhere. The smell of diesel and aviation fuel filled his lungs, and Antonio realised he was drenched in flammable liquid.

Grabbing his backpack and gathering what he could see, he pushed himself through the gap where the windshield had been, scrambling over the front of the wreckage.

The sounds of explosions trailed him as he hurried up a nearby hill, where he paused to catch his breath and take proper inventory.

He had:

  • Four cans of soft drink
  • Three bottles of water
  • Two pocketknives 
  • Two lighters
  • One cell phone, with no signal but a decent battery life
  • One bag of bread, with 12 rolls
  • One pack of trash bags
  • One change of clothes
  • One flashlight
  • One rope
  • Four big cuts, plus various scrapes and bruises
  • Zero injuries of the life-threatening variety, and this, Antonio realised, was a miracle

Staying alive would need to be a miracle, too. It would take more than a shelter of palm fronds, a fire with damp wood and a rudimentary spear to hold across his chest while he slept — but these are the things he was able to add to his survival kit on that first night.

He photographed them with his cell phone in an act of optimism. Maybe he’d get to show them around one day.

A small fire burns near a pile of palm fronds forming a triangle
Two lighters and the lessons of jungle survival training helped Antonio build a fire on the first night. (

Supplied: Fatima Amara 

)

The odds of recovery were low from the start

Flights over the Amazon go missing so frequently that the public follows the search like sport.

Crews from the Brazilian Air Force fly in zig-zags along the intended route, looking for dead spots and missing trees — a plane-sized hole in 470 million hectares of jungle.

They give it five days. It’s extremely rare they actually find someone.

Thiago got the first call hours after Antonio was supposed to arrive at the airstrip. It was 8:30 pm, and he was putting his daughter to sleep.

He tried to ease Mariana into the news slowly but she wanted the full picture.

“I just kept asking questions,” she said. “I hadn’t realised that he was flying again, especially not this kind of flight. I realised I’d been too into my life here.”

Instincts run deep, and Mariana slipped back into big-sister mode. It took her minutes to arrive at what would become the family’s guiding motto.

“If he never came back, we won’t know what happened.”

The Air Force search and rescue crews set up base in the city closest to the crash, Santarem. It required a flight, a boat, rough roads and more than seven hours of travel, but two days later — which happened to be Antonio’s birthday — both siblings were there among the tents, helicopters, small planes and specialised search crews.

They left behind their families and jobs without saying when they’d be back.

A dozen men in orange and green uniforms study a map on a conference table
Air Force protocol calls for a five-day search period. It’s extremely rare they actually find something. (

Supplied: Thiago Sena 

)

Staying put was the pilot’s plan A

Antonio returned to the charred wreckage the following day to find it yielded no more useful objects.

But they still contained the best chance of rescue — proximity to a stretch of open sky in a jungle where trees can stretch as high as 50 metres.

It was here that the trained outdoorsman began his real jungle education, using the daylight to prepare for the night.

It took hours to find dry wood in a place where it can rain as much as 5 cm an hour. He rationed out a bite of bread per day. He held onto his lighters like lifelines.

A nearby stream required a short walk because he never slept too close to water. He understood that alligators and anacondas hang out there, too, looking for their own sustenance.

More than once he caught the lingering scent of old blood— Jaguars.

A close-up shot of a Jaguar looking to the left of the camera
Jaguars are endangered in Brazil but thrive in the Maicuru Reserve, Antonio’s intended destination.(

Rewilding Argentina via Reuters 

)

At night, he’d curl up in his shelter and sleep an hour or two at a time, unable to turn down the volume on a menacing symphony of bumps in the night.

The rainforest is always in motion. Antonio noticed the window to the sky above him growing smaller and smaller as the palm trees, supple and soft, slid back into their upright positions.

The hole was nearly closed when, five days later, Antonio heard the motor of the search and rescue plane growing louder and louder. Soon it was right over his head.

Shouting, jumping, waving, he watched it pass by.

Then he stood listening as the engine receded into the distance.

False alarms were the only clues for Mariana and Thiago

A pick-up truck stuck in the mud with crews standing around in the rain forest
It would sometimes rain for 10 hours during the days spent searching for Antonio, only adding to the challenges of working in the rainforest. (

Supplied: Thiago Sena 

)

“There’s really nothing you can do with hands and knives,” Mariana said. “We had to wait. We had to form other strategies.”

The owners of the mine were nowhere to be found. The owner of the plane was responding to calls but nothing he said helped narrow the search.

What the siblings did have were false alarms and high suspense.

If the Air Force search planes spy anything, they alert a helicopter, which goes in for a closer look. Twice the thunder of chopper blades filled the siblings with hope.

Twice they were disappointed.

Once, they’d learn later, the Air Force pilots had spotted a bit of white in the never-ending green. What they assumed was an airplane’s wing was actually the foam of a river rapid, accumulating in Amazon-sized proportions.

The Air Force extended their search twice at the siblings’ frantic begging. But eight days after Antonio’s disappearance, they said there was no justification for the cost of continuing the search.

They packed up and left.

The fifth day brought an act of inspired desperation

The faint outline of a crashed plane is seen through palm trees
The rainforest began to grow back quickly, concealing Antonio’s plane from rescue crews. (

Supplied: Erik Jennings 

)

When the search plane didn’t return, Antonio gathered his belongings and took off south, in the direction of the airport he had flown from in Alenquer.

But by sunset, he returned to his crash site shelter. Defeated by the density of the jungle, dejected and dispirited, he grappled with the odds of death for the first time since his crash.

What he needed most was not a clear direction but the ability to be seen. He began a conversation with God for the first time since childhood.

Just let me see my family again, he said. Please let me see my family again.

Antonio pulled up the aeronautical maps on his cell phone, which offered little in the way of ground information, but did show him three airstrips to the east, six nautical miles.

A screenshot of google maps showing a location with no surroundings
Though Antonio’s phone had no service, it still registered his approximate location during the crash, a helpful starting point. (

Supplied: Fatima Amara

)

He had no way of knowing whether they were abandoned or active, but they were a promise of human activity and navigable using the sun.

Eight days after his crash, buoyed by the thought of God on his side, he set out into the jungle.

From morning light until noon, he trudged towards the sun — or what he could see of the sun behind the rain clouds. He’d slash away vines and branches with a pocketknife.

He dodged branches thrown at him by territorial spider monkeys. He stooped to refill his plastic bottles with whatever running water he could find on the way. He adopted a routine.

From noon until 3pm, he searched for a safe spot to build shelter, usually on the top of a hill, far from water. From 3 to 5, he built shelter. From 5 to 6, he prepared a fire.

Then he did it again the next day, and the next. His wristwatch became as essential to survival as his will to keep moving.

‘We never had a moment to break down and cry’

The view from the back seat of a small aircraft flying over the rain forest
Mariana and Thiago continued the search effort, rallying volunteers and chatering private planes.(

Supplied: Thiago Sena 

)

Even once the Air Force left and the fire crews left and Santarem started to shrink, it never occurred to Mariana and Thiago to leave.

“We always said we just had to find something. It didn’t matter if he was alive or dead. We couldn’t live with the doubt,” Thiago said.

Mariana began posting videos to update family and soon enough the whole country was tuning in. Some of Antonio’s friends created an online fundraiser. They raised more than $BRL150,000 ($36,500). They offered a $BRL10,000 ($2,400) reward for information leading to his rescue.

They funded out-of-state volunteers and hired private planes to approach the mine from other directions.

Volunteers drove their own motorbikes and cars along Alenquer’s farming roads, wrecking their tires and asking for nothing in return. It rained every day, sometimes for 10 hours on end, sometimes so hard that the planes couldn’t fly.

But they kept going.

“We never had a moment to break down and cry,” Mariana said.

“Thiago had his quiet moments and I had mine. But we just never felt like we had something to cry for.

There were some days when the spiritual arms outnumbered the physical ones. Messages poured in with offers of prayers or with claims that Antonio had appeared in dreams with directions.

In a country with the second-highest COVID-19 casualty count, Antonio’s survival felt as conceivable as anyone’s. Somehow, a plane crash felt more comprehensible than a pandemic.

Antonio slowly withered, losing strength by the day

The view of the rain forest stretching to the horizon out of a plane window
There’s 470 million hectares of Amazon rainforest in Brazil. (

Supplied: Thiago Sena 

)

After a month of searching for civilization, Antonio could barely find sustenance. He shed 25 kilos and his strength was evaporating.

He stumbled across cocoa a few times. He found the big blue eggs of a bird known locally as Nambu-soju. He regularly feasted on the pink-shelled fruit of the Breu Branco tree after observing the monkeys do the same.

But none of it was enough to satisfy him. His stomach cramped at night and he started to lose feelings in his hands and legs. If he stopped to pick something off the ground, his vision would grow dark and fuzzy.

He woke on day 36 and told God he couldn’t go on any longer. He was ready to give in.

Crossing a small river, drenched, exhausted and behind schedule for building camp, his eye caught a white object some 70 meters away. It was a colour made only by men.

He doubted his own perception even as he approached. Sure enough, there it was: a plastic tarp, a few tools and a bucket containing hundreds of Brazilian nut shells.

The noise came next — the subtle tap, tap, tap of a castañero, a nut scavenger.

Antonio moved slow, knowing full well that, this deep in the Amazon, sighting a human is alarmingly rare. He didn’t speak until he was three metres away.

“And I just said, ‘Hello. Good afternoon. My name is Antonio. I’m a pilot and my plane crashed like 30 days ago,” he recounted to the ABC.

“He looked me up and down — I was this burly guy with ripped clothes — and he said: ‘Okay, what do you want me to do?'”

Antonio phone
By the time he was rescued, Antonio had walked 27 kilometres away from the crash site. (

Supplied: Fatima Amara 

)

Identifying Antonio came down to a dog’s name

Mariana and Thiago were preparing to leave for a different vantage point when they received a call from their mother saying she’d been in touch with a woman who found Antonio.

She passed along the number, but Thiago and Mariana braced for disappointment. They’d received these types of calls before.

Communication was difficult. The siblings called the daughter of the scavengers, who called the scavengers over the radio. The two parties were connected via the daughter’s speaker phone, but the signal was weak.

The nut collector clearly identified Antonio’s full name and birthdate, but the siblings wanted proof in the form no one would think to research. They asked for the name of Thiago’s dog.

Faintly, Antonio’s voice came through on the end of the line. “Gancho,” he said — Portuguese for ‘hook,’ like ‘captain hook’.

Thiago threw his phone on the ground and began shouting in the middle of the town square. Mariana was more measured, unable to believe it until she could see him in the flesh.

A dozen people smile for a photo with the rain forest in the background
The family of nut collectors refused to take the cash reward offered by Mariana and Thiago for Antonio’s rescue. (

Supplied: Fatima Amara

)

Antonio took tiny bites of crackers, sips of hot milk and spoons full of salt — the mineral his body most craved. He graduated too quickly to fish, rice and beans, resulting in a night of pain before the helicopter finally came to pick him.

When Antonio landed on cement for the first time in 38 days, the press, cameras and medical staff saw a man with bushy hair and tattered clothing, but remarkably few bruises and a noticeably strong smile.

All Antonio saw was his siblings. He walked straight into their arms.

Wrapped in an embrace, tears streaming down his face, he whispered, again and again: “I did this for you. I survived for you.”

There’s only one word that comes close to capturing how it felt on a personal level, Antonio says. In English, it translates roughly to “thrilled,” but that doesn’t do it justice.

The word in Portuguese is ’emocional’.

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The siblings’ reunion has become a national symbol

“I hadn’t realised the size of the accomplishment until I saw the commotion there at the airport,” Antonio said.

“We are living in these times where you only get bad news, especially here in Brazil. When my story finished like that, with a happy ending, people were so moved.”

Even now that he’s back to sleeping in a bed, Antonio gets daily messages from strangers who say his story has renewed their faith or helped them cope.

His survival is a parable of resilience, resonating globally in the face of a pandemic.

But it’s also become a call to protect the rainforest, an argument against illegal gold-mining and even a conversation starter on the ethics of nut scavenging.

Brazil’s civil aviation authorities are still investigating, but there are challenges to clarity.

The owner of the plane has died from COVID-19, and there’s not much physical evidence of the crash left to examine. Antonio suspects the quality of the fuel may have been the issue.

For him and his siblings, it’s all a bit beside the point. When they try to articulate what it all means, they rest on the same thing that kept them going in the first place: family.

“I love my brothers so, so much. When I first got the message he was missing, all I felt was regret for being apart for so long,” Mariana said.

“It took a high price. We had the most incredible experience of our lives.

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Fresh warnings over Amazon, Royal Mail and Hermes scams targeting customers


There has been fresh warnings over scams relating to Amazon, Royal Mail and the DVLA.

Fraudsters are also passing themselves off as workers from Hermes, DPD, PayPal, and banks, according to warnings.

Cruel fraudsters are attempting to steal victims’ cash as Brits remain working from home, with anxieties high, Birmingham Live reports.

An ITV documentary Tonight, which aired on Thursday evening, shed light on the spate of scams and rise of vile fraudsters attempting to swindle unwitting victims across the country.

The Royal Mail scam has, by now, been well publicised.

But police forces are still urging people to exercise caution and stay vigilant amid a worrying rise in fraudulent text messages and emails.



The most popular scams
The most popular scams in the UK

A West Midlands Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), Sam Doninton said: “I have had a large number of residents mention scams and/or spam texts that they have been receiving as a real problem.”

The scams have left some Birmingham residents losing their entire life savings – including one graduate from the city who fell foul to Royal Mail scammers.

Research listed below also shows Hermes, DVLA and Amazon scams are massively rising, as well as scams relating to banking giants in the UK.



Royal Mail stock photo
The Royal Mail scam has, by now, been well publicised (file photo)

In March, The Mirror reported on how millions of people have been sent text messages from scammers posing as Royal Mail in an attempt to intercept their bank details.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said the messages claim a parcel is awaiting delivery but a “settlement” must first be paid.



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The messages include a link to a fraudulent Royal Mail website which asks the recipient to enter their bank details to release their parcel.

The CTSI warned that the rise in online shopping means more people are likely to be waiting for parcels and deliveries, making them more vulnerable to this kind of fraud.



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The shopping war that Amazon is losing


Amazon has been so successful in the last year that words almost fail me. Except in one area.

Sales at Amazon’s stores, mostly from its Whole Foods grocery chain, fell by 15 per cent in the first three months of this year compared with the same period in 2020. Those sales have now been declining for a year.

Amazon bought out Whole Foods market in 2017, but the upscale chain has failed to make a dent iCredit:AP

The numbers from Amazon have gaping holes that make it hard to know exactly what’s happening. But we can tell that something isn’t quite working.

Nearly four years after Amazon agreed to a huge deal to buy Whole Foods and a year into a pandemic that played into the tech giant’s strengths, it’s worth asking two questions: Is Amazon losing in groceries? And why has one of the world’s most ambitious and inventive companies mostly been a follower rather than a leader in one of the biggest spending categories for Americans?

What Amazon does in groceries matters to all Americans, even if we never buy milk and bananas from the company. Consumers and Amazon’s competitors consider it to be at the cutting edge of innovation. But that’s not the case in groceries — at least not yet.

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Let me backtrack to those falling sales numbers from Amazon’s physical stores. The problem is that those numbers don’t include the grocery orders that people place online and then pick up at stores or have delivered. Those sales have mushroomed during the pandemic for Amazon and its competitors.

An Amazon spokesman told me that adding up all of the ways that people are grocery shopping from Whole Foods, including online ordering for pickup or deliveries, shows that the company’s sales have been increasing. Amazon doesn’t give specifics, however, which is often a sign that the numbers aren’t amazing. If Amazon is selling many more groceries than it did before the pandemic — as is the case with Walmart and Target — the company is being uncharacteristically quiet about it.

This makes me wonder whether Walmart’s grocery sales, which increased by 9 per cent in the year that ended on January 31, are growing faster than Amazon’s. That shouldn’t be happening, given Walmart’s mammoth lead over Amazon in grocery sales.

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Brazil’s Amazon actually released more carbon than it absorbed over the past decade, study finds



The study looked at the volume of CO2 absorbed and stored as the forest grows, versus the amounts released back into the atmosphere as it has been burned down or destroyed.

The Brazilian Amazon released nearly 20 per cent more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the last decade than it absorbed, according to a stunning report that shows humanity can no longer depend on the world’s largest tropical forest to help absorb manmade carbon pollution.   

From 2010 through 2019, Brazil’s Amazon basin gave off 16.6 billion tonnes of CO2, while drawing down only 13.9 billion tonnes, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The study looked at the volume of CO2 absorbed and stored as the forest grows, versus the amounts released back into the atmosphere as it has been burned down or destroyed.

“We half-expected it, but it is the first time that we have figures showing that the Brazilian Amazon has flipped, and is now a net emitter,” said co-author Jean-Pierre Wigneron, a scientist at France’s National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA).

“We don’t know at what point the changeover could become irreversible,” he told AFP in an interview.

The study also showed that deforestation – through fires and clear-cutting – increased nearly four-fold in 2019 compared to either of the two previous years, from about one million hectares (2.5 million acres) to 3.9 million hectares, an area the size of the Netherlands.

“Brazil saw a sharp decline in the application of environmental protection policies after the change of government in 2019,” the INRA said in a statement.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was sworn into office on 1 January, 2019. 

Terrestrial ecosystems worldwide have been a crucial ally as the world struggles to curb CO2 emissions, which topped 40 billion tonnes in 2019. 

Over the last half-century, plants and soil have consistently absorbed about 30 per cent of those emissions, even as those emissions increased by 50 per cent over that period. 

Oceans have also helped, soaking up more than 20 per cent.

Tipping points

The Amazon basin contains about half of the world’s tropical rainforests, which are more effective at soaking up and storing carbon than other types of vegetation.

If the region were to become a net source rather than a “sink” of CO2, tackling the climate crisis will be that much harder.

Using new methods of analysing satellite data developed at the University of Oklahoma, the international team of researchers also showed for the first time that degraded forests were a more significant source of planet-warming CO2 emissions than outright deforestation.

Over the same 10-year period, degradation – caused by fragmentation, selective cutting, or fires that damage but do not destroy trees – caused three times more emissions than outright destruction of forests.

The data examined in the study only covers Brazil, which holds some 60 per cent of the Amazonian rainforest.

Taking the rest of region into account, “the Amazon basin as a whole is probably (carbon) neutral,” said Mr Wigneron.

“But in the other countries with Amazon rainforest, deforestation is on the rise too, and drought has become more intense.”

Climate change looms as a major threat, and could – above a certain threshold of global warming – see the continent’s rainforest tip into a much drier savannah state, recent studies have shown.

This would have devastating consequences not only to the region, which currently harbours a significant percentage of the world’s biodiversity, but globally as well.

The Amazon rainforest is one of a dozen so-called “tipping points” in the climate system.

Ice sheets atop Greenland and the West Antarctic, Siberian permafrost loaded with CO2 and methane, monsoon rains in South Asia, coral reef ecosystems, the jet stream – all are vulnerable to point-of-no-return transitions that would radically alter the world as we know it.  

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Since 2010, Amazon forest emitted more CO2 than it absorbed: study


The Brazilian Amazon released nearly 20 percent more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the last decade than it absorbed, according to a stunning report that shows humanity can no longer depend on the world’s largest tropical forest to help absorb manmade carbon pollution.   

From 2010 through 2019, Brazil’s Amazon basin gave off a staggering 16.6 billion tonnes of CO2, while drawing down only 13.9 billion tonnes, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Nature Climate Change. mh/kjl

Originally published as Since 2010, Amazon forest emitted more CO2 than it absorbed: study

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Amazon spending $US1 billion on pay bump for its workers


Amazon.com is rolling out pay rises to more than 500,000 of its hourly workers a few months early, spending $US1 billion ($1.3 billion) on pay bumps designed to juice hiring at the company’s fast-growing logistics division.

The raises, which range from 50 US cents to $US3 an hour for most workers, will take effect in May and June, Darcie Henry, a vice president in Amazon’s human resources group, said in a note posted to Amazon’s corporate blog. Henry said the company was hiring for “tens of thousands of jobs” across its logistics operations in the US.

The hiring spree coincides with a rapid expansion of the company’s warehousing and distribution unit to deal with the pandemic-fuelled surge in online orders and cut delivery times. The company took on 500,000 new workers in 2020 alone, bringing its total workforce to nearly 1.3 million people worldwide.

Warehouse workers get a pay bump as Amazon struggles to find enough staff to handle the pandemic-fuelled boom in orders.Credit:The New York Times

Those getting raises include warehouse workers, who pack and ship orders, as well as those who work in Amazon’s package sorting centres and other facilities.

The pay rise follows Amazon’s defeat of a union drive to organise an Alabama warehouse. Some union organisers made the case that while Amazon’s $US15 an hour starting wage was lucrative compared to cashier jobs, it wasn’t as favourable for the logistics industry. Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos told shareholders after the lopsided union election that the company would work “to do a better job for employees.”

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Amazon warehouse workers around the country have reported being asked to work mandatory overtime in recent weeks, potentially a sign Amazon is having trouble filling positions to meet demand.

The company is also offering employees in some warehouses $US500 bonuses if they refer friends and family members who accept jobs at Amazon.

Other US retailers have been boosting pay, too. Costco, for example, recently raised its minimum wage to $US16 an hour. And Target recently raised its starting pay to $US15 an hour.

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