There is by far no greater threat to the world than climate change and it seems like everyday we run closer to our demise as rich politicians and corporations control the industries that directly perpetuate environmental warfare. The most visible example of Mother Earth on the brink of climate disaster is the horrific widespread fires in the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon, aka the lungs of our planet, has been rapidly burning for the past three weeks, which would do irreparable harm in the fight against climate change. 20% of all breathable air as well as 10% of the world’s flora and fauna are produced by the Amazon every day. Watching the fires consume both the life-giving native species and the Indigenous populations living within the forest has been truly terrifying and devastating. It’s not to say, however, that climate change is the main source for the massive wildfires, because the Amazon is almost always naturally covered in rain. Brazil’s newest president Jair Bolsonaro declared himself “Captain Chainsaw” campaigned on a desire to deforest the Amazon based on his support from loggers and ranchers. He once described the forest as being “like a virgin that every pervert from the outside wants” so his country’s people should eliminate it before anyone else does. Within only the first year of his presidency, the Amazon 88% more deforestation than the year prior. In this year alone, approximately 73,000 fires have occurred in the forest, which is an 83% increase from 2018 and the most on record since 2013. The Pataxó people have reported that ranchers intentionally set the fires in order to clear out their Indigenous reservation for cattle ranching. Ane Alencar, the scientific director of Brazilian NGO IPAM (Institute of Environmental Research in Amazonia) said “The fire that we’re seeing today is a fire that’s directly related to deforestation. These are not wildfires, but rather fires set by people seeking to create cattle ranches, intentionally ignited during the dry season each year.” In essence, the irreversible damage done to the Amazon rainforest and the Pataxó community is an issue of environmental racism, imperialism, colonization, and genocidal capitalism. Jair Bolsonaro’s right-wing beliefs and actions have enabled greedy ranchers and loggers to destroy both the planet’s lungs and the people who existed in the forest before anyone else did. If the fires continue spreading and ultimately destroy the entire forest, the Amazon will no longer provide nearly a quarter of the world’s oxygen, but will instead produce an overwhelming amount of carbon dioxide, speeding up climate change faster than humans can fight against the existential crisis. Climate change is our most dire threat and leaders like Bolsonaro and Tr*mp are actively working to eliminate every living being on the planet. We should all be devastated by the loss of every species burnt away in the fires and the continuous flames spreading throughout Brazil’s forest. If you are as horrified and stressed about the situation as I am, see below for CNET’s action steps:
- Donate to Rainforest Action Network to protect an acre of the Amazonian rainforest.
- Donate to the Rainforest Trust to help buy land in the rainforest. Since 1988, the organization has saved over 23 million acres and counting.
- Reduce your paper and wood consumption. Double-check with Rainforest Alliance that what you’re buying is rainforest-safe. You can also purchase rainforest safe products from the alliance’s site.
- The World Wide Fund for Nature works to protect the countless species in the Amazon and around the world.
- Ecosia.org is a search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches you run.
- Donate to Amazon Watch, an organization that protects the rainforest, defends indigenous rights and works to address climate change.
- Donate to the Amazon Conservation Team, which works to fight climate change, protect the Amazon and empower indigenous peoples.