Flames Rage in the Amazon Rainforest, and it’s Our Fault

Laura Attarian, Managing Editor

Almost a year after the deadly wildfires of California, the Amazon Rainforest suffers the same fate. For three weeks the jungle burned, massacring every organism in its path.

As stated in a recent article by CNN, the Amazon rainforest is dubbed as the “lungs of the world” for supplying earth with 20% of its oxygen. This jungle is home to ten million animals, one million indigenous people, and 40,000 plant species, many of which are unique to this rainforest. Many might find this a mere wildfire, but it is anything but natural. This travesty is a direct result of climate change. 

August 21, 2019, Amazon Rainforest: From 22,300 miles in space, NOAA’s GOES16 captured this image of fires burning in the Amazon Rainforest today, August 21, 2019. Fires are raging at a record rate in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, and scientists warn that it could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change. There have been 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, with more than half in the Amazon region, INPE said. That’s more than an 80 percent increase compared with the same period last year. (NOAA/ZUMA Wire/Zuma Press/TNS)

Wildfires have always taken place in the natural world, but the intensity of this one is not natural. According to a recent article in NY magazine, there has been roughly 73,000 fires in the Amazon this year, a whopping 84% increase since last year. Many believe Jair Bolsonaro is to blame, after all, he is known for supporting the exploration –not conservation– of the Amazon Rainforest. The Brazilian president has been under fire for allowing logging and loosening regulations pertaining to the environment. Ranchers have also been associated to set fire to the rainforest in order to clear land for cattle raising, and Bolsonaro’s presidency has made it easier than ever to do so. And if the eradication of thousands of species isn’t catastrophic enough, the smoke from the fire is contributing to carbon dioxide emissions, which leads to even more environmental disasters.

The government of Brazil is not the only one to blame: civilians also must be held accountable for our actions. These fires are taking place so that the supply of beef can meet our demand for it. The selfish human nature is at fault for creating this demand in the first place. Contrary to popular belief, posting screenshots of the fire on an instagram story is not going to solve anything, especially when people carry on using single-use plastic and make no effort to reduce your carbon footprint. Sharing the news results nothing but awareness. If you want to genuinely help, there are many lifestyle changes you should adapt to become a more eco-friendly person. 

Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef and much of this beef is coming from cattle in the Amazon, so reducing your meat consumption is already a step in the right direction. Converting to reusable alternatives, purchasing rainforest-safe materials, using Ecosia (a search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches), signing the Greenpeace petition, and donating towards the Amazon are all ways you can contribute to the cause. All we can do now is advocate for change and a better government.

This isn’t just a climate crisis: it’s a climate emergency. These fires have reached the city of São Paulo 1,700 miles away and can be seen from space, and if we don’t make substantial changes to our lifestyle, there will be no one to blame for the damage to our Earth but ourselves.