If you’ve been concerned about the environment and how our planet might become uninhabitable in a few years, there’s some more worrisome news. The burning Amazon rainforest in Brazil has seen an alarming 75,000 fires in 2019 so far. While forest fires are common in the Amazon during the dry season, this is much worse, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said that his government lacks the resources to fight these raging blazes. The worst-hit areas in Brazil remain the northern states of Roraima, Acre, Rondônia, and Amazonas.
Greenpeace recently said in a release, "In addition to increasing emissions, deforestation contributes directly to a change in rainfall patterns in the affected region, extending the length of the dry season, further affecting forests, biodiversity, agriculture and human health."
The forest fires are a natural phenomenon caused by lightning, but, as with everything else in our times, it can also be caused by human activities like clearing land for crops or grazing. Sometimes, these fires are also started illegally to deforest lands.
#PrayForAmazon has been trending on social media for days now and according to reports, the smoke from the fires is so intense that it has been captured on both NASA and NOAA satellites from space. The smoke from the fires caused a daytime blackout more than 2,700 kilometres away in Brazil’s largest city São Paulo on Monday.
The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) satellite data shows an 83% increase in the fires compared to the same period last year. President Bolsonaro is a climate change skeptic and has been severely criticised in the past for his problematic rhetoric about the environment. He has been blaming NGOs that have been critical of him for starting the wildfires to damage his image. In a press conference, when asked about who started the fires, he said, “The Indians, do you want me to blame the Indians? Do you want me to blame the Martians... Everyone is a suspect, but the biggest suspects are NGOs."
French President Emmanuel Macron called for emergency talks on the fires at this week’s G7 summit, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with him. "Our house is burning," he wrote on Twitter.
Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days! #ActForTheAmazon pic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019
Celebrated actor and passionate environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio also criticised the media for not highlighting this issue enough, and posted this on Instagram.
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#Regram #RG @IamNickRose: Terrifying to think that the Amazon is the largest rain forest on the planet, creating 20% of the earth’s oxygen, basically the lungs of the world, has been on fire and burning for the last 16 days running, with literally NO media coverage whatsoever! Why?
Indian celebrities have also been tweeting and posting about the far-reaching consequences of this on our environment. Mostly, they’re talking about how, until a couple of days ago, even though the largest rainforest in the world had been burning for days, there was very little coverage in the media about any of this.
Been seeing heart-breaking & alarming pictures of the Amazon rainforest which has been on fire since more than 2 weeks!It is responsible for 20% of the world’s oxygen.This affects each one of us...the earth may survive climate change but we won’t. #SaveTheAmazon #PrayForTheAmazon— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) August 22, 2019
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Deniers of #ClimateChange we are being gutted by the fires caused by your denial! The Amazon forest, the lungs of our planet has been on fire for the last 16 days and more than 72000 fires have occurred already this year. When will world media give this more attention? #ClimateChangeIsReal #ActOnClimate #amazonia #amazonas #PrayForAmazonia @unenvironment @unitednations @unsdgadvocates
Posting about the fires on social media is not the only thing we can do. While it is important to spread the news, there are people in need of our help.
1. For starters, you can make a donation on the Rainforest Action Network and protect an acre of the rainforests.
2. You can check with Rainforest Alliance if what you're buying is considered rainforest-safe and you can also reduce your paper and wood consumption, as these products are made extensively from the resources of the forests.
3. Support The World Wide Fund for Nature (aka the World Wildlife Fund), as it works to protect the species in the Amazon and around the world.
4. Put the internet to good use by finding petitions you can sign to protect the Amazon. Start with the Greenpeace petition to convince the Brazillian government to save the rainforests.
This is not a run-of-the-mill climate change story, and it shouldn't be treated as such. If we do not take some serious steps to curb the effects of human actions on the environment, it might get too late to do anything.
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