For over two weeks now, flames have been sweeping through the Amazon Rainforest, leaving destruction in their wake.
According to the Save the Amazon Coalition, nicknamed the “Lungs of our Planet,” the Amazon Rainforest provides more than 20% of the world’s oxygen. It continuously recycles carbon dioxide, and produces the rains that fuel its own growth, the World Economic Forum says.
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The government of Brazil reports that the country has seen an 84% increase since the same period last year. São Paulo’s skies turned dark on Monday afternoon, as smoke travelled from the flames burning nearly 3,000 km away.
The World Meteorological Organization shared the below NASA image on Twitter, showing views of the smoke’s travel from space.
While the Amazon Rainforest experiences natural occurring wildfires annually during the dry season, this year’s increase in fires is staggering.
Environmentalists, NGOs, and many more are calling for humans to take responsibility.
“The earth isn’t dying. It’s being killed,” conservationist Paul Rosorie wrote on Instagram. “This is a long term problem that is the result of decades of apathy towards the deforestation we knew was taking place. The Amazon produces the rains that water it. It’s a system. And when we cut too much of that system, we damage that self-sustaining loop.”
The BBC reports that conservationists have blamed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for the current destruction, saying he has encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land.
When asked if it could have been the farmers who started the fires, Bolsonaro said: “Everyone is a suspect, but the biggest suspect is NGOs.”
He also stated that the government is unable to fight the destruction.
“There aren’t the resources. The chaos has arrived,” he said.
The consequences of the deforestation resulting from these fires include the loss of Indigenous peoples’ homes, plant, animal, and insect species, increased greenhouse gasses, soil erosion, flooding and more, Pachamama Alliance reports.
“The largest rainforest in the world is a critical piece of the global climate solution. Without the Amazon, we cannot keep the Earth’s warming in check,” the Rainforest Alliance wrote on Instagram, before offering suggestions for how people across the world can help.
Here’s what the Rainforest Alliance and the WWF recommend as modes of action:
- Donate to frontline Amazon groups working to defend the forest.
- Consider becoming a regular supporter of the Rainforest Alliance’s community forestry initiatives across the world’s most vulnerable tropical forests, including the Amazon. Click here to learn more.
- Continue sharing posts, helping to spread the word.
- Be a conscious consumer, taking care to support companies committed to responsible supply chains. Ask how your food and other purchases have been produced. Be mindful of beef consumption; cattle ranching is one of the primary drivers of Amazon deforestation.
- When election time comes, VOTE for leaders who understand the urgency of the climate crisis and are willing to take bold action — including strong governance and forward-thinking policy.
- Let your voice be heard. Educate your family and friends about the importance of the Amazon, which is home to 10% of the known species on Earth. Then ask them to speak out too.
- Reduce your use of fossil fuels, and your impact on the planet. The fewer fossil fuels used, the less of an impact climate change will have on the Amazon and other important natural areas. Turn off electric appliances when you’re not using them. Take public transport or ride your bike to work.