By now, you might have heard the news – Amazon rainforest in Brazil is on fire. There are literally tens of thousands of small fires burning it down, and it has been going on for the weeks. While that by itself is not a unique case in history, it happens basically every year, part of it on purpose (to make room for cattle farming etc), this year it is different because of its background and of what it might mean for the future of the entire Earth, considering that it is burning at a rate way more alarming than usual.
Amazon rainforest fires are not an uncommon occurrence in Brazil and neighbouring countries during the dry season (that start during July and August and peak from September to November), sometimes they happen naturally, but often people start them to clear out the land for ranching and farming, but well, to put it simply, whatever they plan, it is not easy to contain a fire once it starts. So that is probably one of the main causes of what is happening right now.
Another one, not as direct as pouring gasoline on the trees and lighting up matches, but equally damaging, is the extreme deforestation that has been happening this year under the leadership of Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro. Not to get political here, but it is a fact that the guy is a far-right politician who does not believe the fires are a serious problem, and accuses the environmental activists of setting the fires with an intention of ‘embarrassing’ his government.
And they are a problem, and a really big one. Amazon rainforest is nicknamed “the lungs of the Earth” because it produces 20 percent of its oxygen. It plays a crucial role in not allowing carbon-dioxide levels in our planet’s atmosphere to rise too high, and there are hundreds of indigenous tribes living in it. But now, an area of 1,345 square kilometres of the forest is lost already, and it is far from over. Talking about numbers, according to data from Brazilian satellites, during July, every minute three football fields’ worth of trees fell in Amazon. It is no coincidence that these huge fires started right after such amount of deforestation.
One of the most noticeable effects that the fires have already had was the sky darkening in the middle of the day in multiple Brazilian cities because of the smoke. It would not be surprising, but those cities are thousands of kilometres away from the fires. And the smoke can be seen from space. Those two things are also the main reasons the fires finally got the coverage they deserve. Otherwise, it would have probably been swept under the rug.
Many celebrities and politicians, including Madonna, Cristiano Ronaldo, Leonardo DiCaprio, Emmanuel Macron, and Sadiq Khan, have already expressed their concern and called world to attention, and many more are joining. You can do that too. Social media hashtag #PrayForAmazonia has gone viral, and you can help keep it that way. You can also donate to Rainforest Trust, SOS Amazonia, Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch, Amazon Conservation Team, Amazon Conservation. You can sign online petitions too, such as the ones on the site change.org, but most importantly, do not let this be forgotten in a couple of days or weeks.