Recently, news hit the United States that the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil has been burning for the last few weeks. Natural fires within a rainforest like the Amazon are rare and don’t occur like they might in other climates, even in the dry season. Many environmentalists have placed blame on farmers and ranchers for setting the fires to create more grazing areas for cattle and on Brazil’s Trump-like and far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has been accused by many for encouraging ranchers, farmers, and others to exploit and burn the forest. In fact, during the first 6 months of 2019, Bolsonaro helped to slash protections for the Amazon in Brazil dramatically.
- Amazon rainforest fires put thousands of species, indigenous communities, and the earth’s atmosphere at risk by Tebany Yune, Mic
Compared to previous years, the fires currently happening are unprecedented. This spells disaster for the Amazon and the entire world, as this rainforest provides 20% of the world’s oxygen and has repeatedly been referred to as “the world’s lungs”. Deforestation and human-caused fires can result in irreversible damage to the rainforest and the forest could start emitting more carbon, a driving factor in climate change. Plus, forest loss in the Amazon may even affect water and climate even in faraway places.
- What the Amazon fires mean for wild animals by Natasha Daly, National Geographic
The Amazon wildfires impact the entire world, as losing a significant amount of that rainforest will have an impact on climate change and the levels of oxygen and carbon around the world. Additionally, indigenous peoples in Brazil are losing their homes because of the fires and the Amazon is home to half the world’s tropical forests. The biodiversity within these forests is incredible, as there are more than 2,000 species of animals and 80,000 different plant species.
Ways to Help the Amazon, even from afar
Hold Elected Officials and Corporations Accountable.
Contact your elected officials (on a local, state, and national level) and encourage them to take action on climate change. Additionally, just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions since 1988, meaning that we the public have to hold these companies accountable for the impact they’re having on the world.
Sign a Petition and Work with Local Environmental Groups.
Collective action can work! Working with local environmental groups can also help your local ecosystems and climates.
- Save the Amazon and stand with the guardians of the forest from GreenPeace
Donate to Organizations that are Protecting the Amazon.
- Amazon Aid Foundation: helps raise awareness for preserving the Amazon through arts, science, and other projects.
- Amazon Conservation Team: partners with indigenous and local communities to protect the forests, fight climate change, and strengthen traditional cultures.
- Amazon Conservation Association: helps to plant trees, protect habitats, supporting research, and more
- Amazon Watch: works to protect the rainforest and defend indigenous populations in the Amazon Basin.
- Rainforest Action Network
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Upcycle.
Plastic in our oceans has become an increasingly pressing issue; for example, environmentalists cleaned up 40 tons of fishing nets from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch back in June 2019. Textile waste continues to be a big issue as well so the practice of reducing your consumption, reusing or recycling materials, and upcycling things you might throw away can make a difference. Additionally, requiring companies of all kinds to be more environmentally friendly can help.
Other ideas for helping the Amazon and fighting climate change can be found in the following articles:
- Here’s what you can do to help the burning, ravage Amazon rainforest by James Pasley, Business Insider
- The Amazon rainforest is ablaze – here’s how you can help by Tiffany Diane Tso, Refinery29
While the Amazon Rainforest is thousands and thousands of miles away from the Pacific Northwest, the fires currently happening in it have an immense impact here and around the world.