The Amazon rainforest is burning.
As we speak enormous wildfires are devastating the Amazon rainforest, the Earth’s largest forest and the source of roughly 20% of its oxygen, a statistic that has led many to call it “the lungs of the world.” Dramatic photos and video of the fires have captured scenes of incredible swathes of trees on fire. The resulting ash and smoke is spreading far and wide across Brazil and beyond and is even visible from space.
While some forest fires are a normal occurrence in the Amazon rainforest, according to CNN there has been an 80% increase in fires in the past year with some 72,000 fires already recorded.
Though it’s the dry season in the Amazon the huge uptick in fires is believed to be the result of human activity as trees are often burned to clear land for farming and ranching. Meanwhile, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has outlandishly claimed that the fires are the work of his political opponents and not of the rapidly increased deforestation that has taken place under his regime.
It’s easy to feel powerless when disasters occur on such a large scale and when they occur so far away, so here are a few things you can do to help.
1. Donate to a rainforest-focussed nonprofit
Organizations like the Rainforest Trust and the Rainforest Alliance are working to combat the destruction of the Amazon rainforest by increasing environmental protections and stopping the rampant and illegal deforestation that is threatening one of the Earth’s most vital ecosystems.
The #AmazonRainforest is a critical piece of the global climate solution. Without the largest rainforest in the world, we cannot keep the Earth’s warming in check. The Amazon needs more than prayers. So what can YOU do? (1/5) pic.twitter.com/U7mXL4K4yK— Rainforest Alliance (@RnfrstAlliance) August 21, 2019
2. Be a conscious consumer
By doing your best to buy products that are certified as sustainable and rainforest-conscious you can help stop the demand that spurs illegal deforestation by ranchers and farmers in the Amazon basin.
For example to attain the green frog seal that makes a product Rainforest Alliance certified products must meet certain criteria. According to the Rainforest Alliance only “farms, forests, and tourism businesses that meet rigorous environmental and social standards” can receive the certification that allows consumers to know their purchases aren’t contributing to the problem.
50% of all known plants and animals on Earth live in the #rainforest. If these forests disappear, many of these species will have nowhere else to go.— Rainforest Trust (@RainforestTrust) August 25, 2019
Act now to protect rainforest and save endangered species! https://t.co/NUaEBwIj9l pic.twitter.com/osJYvlSkeb
3. Eat less meat
Some people won’t want to hear this one but a huge factor leading to the deforestation that is causing the fires is the global demand for beef that is spurring ranchers to burn more and more land in the Amazon basin as they clear land for cattle.
It may feel like a small thing but maybe reconsider that next burger.
The Amazon faces a dire threat: BEEF PRODUCTION. The record-breaking fires in the rainforest are mostly manmade to clear land for cattle grazing. Our appetite for burgers is destroying the Earth’s lungs. Devastating. 💔 https://t.co/hmtkmUPy40— Ari Solomon (@VeganAri) August 22, 2019
4. Speak out
Whether you do so on social media or in your social circle, the more you and others discuss this issue the more it will be part of the public discourse. You can also lend your name and support to several petitions that have been started both on Change.org and by Greenpeace.
A petition started by a private citizen in Brazil titled “Stop the burning of the Amazon rainforest!” has already garnered an incredible 4 million signatures, showing just how much people care about stopping the devastation.
Aerial footage shows the world's largest rainforest in flames. Brazil's Amazon is known as "the planet's lungs" for producing about 20 percent of the world's oxygen. This inferno threatens the rainforest ecosystem and also affects the entire globe. https://t.co/pTfFpsMR2M pic.twitter.com/F2Hv6drIrM— CNN (@CNN) August 26, 2019
5. Share stories like these about what’s happening to the rainforest
All too often deadly serious stories like this one get lost in the noise as people focus on the petty political controversies and celebrity news blurbs of the day. Meanwhile the destruction of the Amazon will affect the entire planet for years to come and the lives of millions.
By sharing stories about the horrendous damage being done you’re helping to raise awareness of a vital issue.
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