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Brazil's Amazon rainforest is burning at a record rate, research center says

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Fires are raging at a record rate in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, and scientists warn it could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change. 

The fires are burning at the highest rate since the country's space research center, the National Institute for Space Research, began tracking them in 2013. 

There have been over 72,000 fires in Brazil this year, with more than half in the Amazon region. 

That's more than an 80% increase compared with the same period last year. 

The Amazon is often referred to as the planet's lungs, producing 20% of the oxygen in the earth's atmosphere. 

It is considered vital in slowing global warming, and it is also home to uncountable species of plants.

Roughly half the size of the U.S., it is the largest rainforest on the planet.