This Is What’s Happening to the Amazon Rainforest Today

The Amazon Rainforest. The largest tropical rainforest in the world with the richest biodiversity that cannot be matched – absolutely unparalleled. Home to thousands of different species of animals and a sanctuary where an endless variety of flora and fauna thrive.

Amazonia is often referred to as the ‘lungs of the earth’ as they generally breathe out oxygen and draw out carbon dioxide, functioning as a sort of giant air machine.

Covering over 1.3 billion acres of land, the rainforest is being shared by Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and several other South American countries. Its land area is so vast that Ireland and the United Kingdom could fit into it 17 times. But more than half of the forest is actually occupied by Brazil. Brazil, specifically northwestern Brazil takes up most of the entire rainforest.

While the Amazon rainforest will always be known as the gargantuan natural beauty that it is, things have been taking a turn as of recently. This is what the Amazon Rainforest looks like today.

While the recent forest fires in California were incredibly shocking and devastating, this is unlike anything the world has ever seen. We are talking about the world’s most important ecosystem that has been burning for over two weeks now. The Amazon rainforest is burning at a rate so rapid and alarming, that the fires can be seen all the way from space according to NASA on August 11

On August 20, Netizens from Brazil took to social media to show the state of Sau Paolo as the city was covered in a blanket of ash and smoke. People were not able to see the light of day despite it being three in the afternoon. Half of Brazil was shadowed by darkness as a result of the burning of the Amazon rainforest.

 

What is causing these fires?

There are only two ways that a forest fire can start – naturally caused or human-caused. In the case of the burning of Amazonia, scientists argue that it is definitely unnatural and that the cause is rooted in human causes.

Ecologist Adriane Muelbert, who has studied the Amazon deforestation and its impact on climate change said, “In the previous years, wildfires were very much related to the lack of rain, but it has been quite moist this year. That leads us to think that this is deforestation-drive fire”.

According to the locals, it is said that the rainforest is being burnt down to make way for pro-business activities such as creating space for cattle pastures as well as farming.

Part of the rainforest burned by loggers and farmers on August 20 | Source: REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

Since the beginning of his presidency, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been heavily criticised for his negligence and lack of attention towards the subject of climate change at a whole, as well as encouraging farming activities in the rainforest. Now, activists and environmentalists are blaming the local government for passing several pro-agro business policies and allowing this monstrosity to take place over mere business ventures that could be carried out elsewhere.

Did it really have to be at the expense of the world’s most diverse ecosystem?

What does this mean for the rainforest and the world?

Source: Gustavo Frazao/Shutterstock

20% of the world’s oxygen is produced from the Amazon rainforest. In attempts to slow down the effects of global warming on our planet, this is incredibly crucial. Countless species of flora and fauna will be destroyed and over 400 indigenous Amerindian tribes and the countless animals that call the rainforest their home will be wiped out. What was once named “a global environmental success story” is now in danger due to avoidable human activity. 

“There was worldwide outcry when the Notre Dam Cathedral was on fire. Why is there not the same level of outrage for the fires destroying the Amazon Rainforest?” – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) United Kingdom 

Where are the billionaires? Where is the media coverage?

What can we do?

From an average person’s point of view, it seems like there is little to nothing we can do about such a large-scale calamity. But the power of word of mouth should never be underestimated. Spread the word to your friends and family. Get people talking and get the word out. We need to act now. 

Support and sign this petition to save the rainforest.

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