Amazon rainforests in ruin


image courtesy of pixabay

Rainforest fires have increased more than 20% in recent years.

Safa Farooq, Scribe Reporter

As the Amazon rainforest continues to burn and concern grows over one of Earth’s primary oxygen sources, world leaders struggle to take action.  

The current fires began in early August, according to The Washington Post. However, there have been over 70,000 fires in the world’s largest rainforest since the start of 2019, which is, “an 80 percent increase from last year,” reports National Geographic. So why are these fires different from the other thousands? 

A mix of sordid politics, explosive media coverage, and the rate at which these flames are engulfing the trees are just a few reasons as to why the rainforest flames have garnered international news. Tweets and donations from numerous celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Camila Cabello, and others continue in hopes of combating the flames. 

Exactly how did these fires start? Paleoecologists—scientists who study the ecology of fossil animals and plants—have been conducting research to see whether or not these fires were naturally occurring or if they were the byproducts of man. The dry season in rainforests typically encourages fires, but according to conservationists, fires of this caliber are usually man-made. Some blame Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro for the fires since he advocated for clear-cutting to benefit cattle ranching, a profitable business in South America.

image courtesy of Wikimedia
Satellite image shows the magnitude of the Amazon rainforest fires.

Bolsonaro has come under fire for not taking action sooner, and he’s been decried by French President Emmanuel Macron.   Macron has also offered the right wing president millions of dollars worth of aid in hopes of salvaging what’s left of one of the natural wonders of the world. This munificent gesture was accompanied by a few comments rebuking the Brazilian president’s lack of action regarding the decaying jungle. Bolsonaro responded with remarks about the burning of the Notre Dame cathedral and resorted to childish, grotesque insults directed towards Macron’s wife. Since then, Bolsonaro has sent the armed forces to combat the flames, but Brazilians and members of the G7 summit are in unison on the fact that enough is not being done to preserve the Amazon. 

There are solutions as to how to prevent these wildfires from occurring. One would be to stop the deforestation within the Amazon. Deforestation fires are popular in areas where cattle ranching is prevalent. This may not be the easiest solution, however, given that Brazil is the largest supplier of cattle in the world. Organizations like the Rainforest Trust and the Rainforest Alliance are looking for anyone to donate. According to CNN, “Rainforest Trust allows you to restrict your donations to a specific project. The Rainforest Alliance says 100% of your donation will help stop deforestation in Brazil right now.” 

If these fires persist, it could potentially accelerate the effects of greenhouse gases and global warming, shortening the amount of time scientists have to come up with a solution before the effects of climate change are irreversible. 

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