The world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon covers 5.5 million km² of land and is one of the world’s most important ecosystems. Often referred to as the “lungs of the earth” the rainforest is made up of billions of trees which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as well as produce oxygen.
Should we be concerned about the fires?
When forests burn, carbon is released in the form of CO2, a heat-trapping gas that is a major cause of global warming. Scientists have predicted that with the current situation only being the start of the dry season, more and more carbon will be released into the atmosphere, making climate change even more difficult to control. The Amazon also generates rain for agriculture across Latin America as well as being home to millions of plants, animals and people all of whom are under serious threat.
What causes the fires?
Illegal deforestation is the leading cause of the Amazon rainforest fires which are deliberately set to clear land for agriculture, cattle ranching, soy production and logging. The land clearing reduces the amount and availability of water, heats up the soil and causes intense droughts. “The destruction of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil has increased rapidly since the nation’s new far-right president took over and his government scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, ranching and mining.” Says Alexandria Symonds from the New York Times.
What can you do?
Start by being well informed about the situation and the severity of it – the Amazon rainforest is our biggest defense in slowing down global warming.
Reduce your impact on the planet – recycle and reuse where possible. Choose green energy providers for your household and unplug any appliances that are not in use. Invest in a Bokashi recycling bin at home and start your own composting heap. Install solar powered geysers and solar panels if you can afford it. Limit your beef and dairy intake – animal agriculture is the most destructive industry facing the planet today. Livestock and their byproducts are responsible for around 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.
Look for FSC certified labelled products. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), is a non-profit organization aimed at ensuring that forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible and socially beneficial manner. Any harvested trees are either replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally. It also ensures that key biodiversity-rich sites, such as the Amazon, are not destroyed when forest products are sourced.
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