The Amazon rainforest is currently
on fire. If this is the first time you are hearing this news, you’re not alone. Many people became aware of this tragedy a few days ago, and yet it’s old news. The fires currently decimating the Amazon have been burning for weeks.
In fact, it’s so bad the smoke can be seen from space. NASA released satellite
images Aug. 14, 2019, showing whitish- gray streaks over the Amazon; what at first looked like clouds are really the consequence of the fires ravaging the forest. Due to the amount of smoke from these fires and the possible health risks to nearby people and animals, the State of Amazonas declared a state of emergency.
Comparatively, the Amazon is much more fire resistant than places with drier environments, leading some to ask how these fires even started. In an article released by CNN, environmentalists blame cattle ranchers and loggers who set the fires to clear the land for use.
This is not a new practice and some people are blaming Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for the fires and calling out his inaction in stopping them. Since Bolsonaro took office in January 2019, deforestation has increased dramatically. According
to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, there have been over 74,000 fires in the rainforest this year, a more than 80 percent increase from 2018. Even worse, around half of those fires are from this
However, if you ask Bolsonaro, he’s
convinced these fires are not the result of his roll back of environmental protection policies and instead were set by his political opposers to ruin his image. This is despite the clear link between his actions in office and the increased deforestation of the Amazon.
In fact, a look into his time in office
also shows he has opened protected indigenous lands to agricultural mining. This is a serious threat. According to an article by National Geographic, indigenous lands may be the best way to protect the rainforest.
Despite the lack of coverage this tragedy has received, it can’t be overstated how important it is that everyone know the reality of the situation.
According to Rainforest-Alliance.org, people across the globe rely on the Amazon rainforest more than they realize. Foods such as bananas, brazil nuts, sugar, vanilla and coffee beans all come from rainforests. Medicines and cosmetic ingredients can
also be found there.
Arguably most important, is the
rainforest’s ability to fight climate
change. The Amazon rainforest absorbs
a tremendous amount of greenhouse
gases in our atmosphere, using up carbon dioxide and in turn putting oxygen into the air. Because of their size, forests are the best defense against climate change, but they can’t do anything for us if they’re all burned to the ground.
So what can you do? If you want
to donate to help conserve rainforests
there are many to choose from such as Rainforest Trust, who have saved millions of acres of rainforest since 1988. You can also do your part by reducing your paper consumption, for more information on products considered rainforest friendly you can visit Rainforest Alliance’s website.
And lastly, talk about it. After all, there was no media coverage on this for weeks, but thanks to people like you who will take the time to read about it and share it, we can all do our part to help our rainforests!