The Amazon Rainforest has been on fire for the past month.
Brazil has declared a state of emergency in the region. In fact, the number of fires in Brazil this year is the highest on record since 2013.
Brazil’s environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, tweeted to say the fires were “caused by dry weather, wind, and heat”.
However, many are skeptical of this.
Alberto Setzer, a senior scientist at INPE said 99 per cent of the fires are a result of human actions.
It’s been suggested that cattle ranchers and loggers are to blame. This is because they want to clear and utilise the land. Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organisation Amazon Watch said: “The vast majority of these fires are human-lit.”
Also, many blame Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, who cut the budget for the IBAMA – Brazil’s environmental agency – by 24 per cent this year.
These cuts meant the IBAMA did not have the resources to monitor the rainforest and enforce fines for those illegally starting fires.
Why is The Amazon so important?
The Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.
The rainforest is even nicknamed the “lungs of the world” because it produces 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen.
Greenpeace has said that forest fires and climate change operate in a vicious circle.
As the number of fires increase, greenhouse gas emissions do too. Consequently, this makes the planet’s overall temperature rise.
How you can help:
As international concern over the fires spread, leaders of the seven leading industrial nations offered £18million to help fight the fires.
However, Bolsonaro rejected this offer following a dispute with French President, Emmanuel Macron.
Although you may feel powerless watching the news and footage of The Amazon burn, there’s plenty you can do.
1. Adopt a vegan diet
Animal agriculture is responsible for around 80 per cent of deforestation worldwide.
In the Amazon, around 450,000 square kilometres of deforested land in Brazil is now cattle pasture.
By swapping to a plant-based diet, there is no need to cut down trees as this rapid rate.
2. Support ethical/eco businesses
Ecosia.org is a search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches you run. Saint Ives Liquor Co. is partnered with Rising Forests which means that for each bottle gin you buy, one tree will be planted. Finally, Tentree, an apparel company plant ten trees for every item purchased. So far they have planted 30 million! In other words, put your money where your mouth is and shop with eco-brands.
There are an abundance of charities dedicated to protecting rainforests. Donating to Rainforest Action Network will protect an acre of the Amazonian rainforest. Donating to Amazon Watch, will protect the rainforest, defend Indigenous rights and work to combat climate change.
If you don’t have money to donate, use your voice. Sign Greenpeace’s petition telling the Brazilian government to save the Amazon rainforest and protect the lands of indigenous and traditional communities.