The environment is headed on a fast track towards destruction, and man is the root cause. Despite this, society is lacking the initiative to enforce the laws preventing this trend, and the consequences are becoming detrimental. According to USA today, The Amazon Rain-forest, which provides 20% of the world’s oxygen, has been ruined by detrimental forest fires directly caused by deforestation.
The Amazon Rainforest has been suffering from forest fires for three weeks and counting. More than 80,000 fires have been sighted by Brazillian satellites, which is an 85% increase from last year. The burning is so widespread and intense that the European Union Earth Observation Program’s satellites have images of smoke from outer space.
“Brazilian rainforests are vital for the world’s climate. I am truly worried about the attitude Brazil seems to have adopted right now regarding its own forests” Antti Rinne, Finland’s prime minister, said.
Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazillian president, initially ignored the Amazon’s fires. However, the power of social media recently pressured him into taking the drastic step of mobilizing the Brazillian army to counter the flames. Trending hashtags such as #prayfortheamazon are not only exposing Brazil’s nearly nonexistent deforestation laws, but are helping to spread worldwide awareness for this issue.
The increasing awareness has made the severity of the Amazon’s situation clear. The forest fires have far-reaching consequences, making it less of a “national emergency” and more of an international one.
“Fires release pollutants including particulate matter & toxic gases […] into the atmosphere,” the World Meteorological Foundation tweeted on Tuesday.
These toxic gases have a direct effect on global warming, endangering multiple species on the planet; the Amazon itself is home to 10% of the world’s biodiversity. There are many direct effects on humans as well. According to National Geographic, countries around the world could face severe droughts/ water shortages due to the fires.
In order to extinguish the fires, it is important to know what caused them. Greenpeace stated in an August 22nd release, “forest fires and climate change operate in a vicious circle”. Though the Amazon is usually wet and humid, the dry season (July – August) is only getting drier. No rain in combination with illegal deforestation for farming and ranching is adding fuel to the literal fire. Each year more fires occur, releasing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. These gases are contributing to global warming which is slowly making the Amazon’s dry seasons even drier and causing more flames. Thus, a “vicious circle” ensues.
People and organizations across the world, however, are working together to break the circle. During Sunday’s G7 summit, UK and US leaders agreed on a donation of $20 million dollars to help stop the amazon fires. Leonardo DiCaprio alone donated $5 million dollars to see the Amazon’s greenery once more.
Despite these efforts, Brazil has surprisingly refused to accept any donations.
“We are thankful, but maybe those resources would be more relevant to reforest Europe,” Onyx Lorenzoni, a Brazilian politician, said.
While the fire is still burning, it is unclear the extremes to which it can affect our planet. However, spreading awareness can help push the Brazilian government into accepting donations and taking action. For now, climate activists are taking to social media in an attempt to #savetheamazon.