Amazon’s Burning And Here’s Why You Should Be Concerned

You would’ve seen the news about how there are fires raging in the Amazon rainforests of Brazil, talking of how there has been an increase in the number of fires and how it will lead to drastic climate change.

The story was receiving relatively less attention till actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio posted about it on Instagram.

Now, Brazil is kilometres and kilometres away and so it is natural for us to think, “What can we do about it?” or “Why should this concern us?” or “There are similar things happening all around us. What do we do?”

Here’s how it affects all of us. The Amazon rainforest is called “the lungs of the Earth” because it leads to the production of 20% of all Oxygen on Earth. And the disappearance of this forest cover will accelerate global warming exponentially.

So what’s leading to the sudden increase in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest? According to environmental groups, Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro is to blame. Bolsonaro had relaxed environmental controls in the country in a bid to restore the economy by leveraging Amazon’s economic potential. Climate activists point out that forest fires are almost always caused by humans, either purposely or accidentally, and that the pro-business stance of Bolsonaro’s government is encouraging miners, loggers, and farmers encroach into the rainforest.

Bolsonaro, however, denies allegations and says that the fires are typical for this time of the year. During the dry season, the Amazon gets quite dry and farmers burn the forest down to make way for agriculture – a practise called “queimada”.

“I used to be called Captain Chainsaw,” Bolsonaro said. “Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada.”

He even went on to (without any evidence) accuse some NGOs of starting the fire to cause him political harm.

But whatever the reasons may be, there have been 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, with more than half in the Amazon region. The country’s space research centre, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has been tracking the occurrence of fires since 2013 and says that there has been more than an 80% increase in the number of fires this year. The rate of burn is so high that more than 1½ football grounds of Amazon rainforest is being destroyed every minute of every day. There is so much smoke released from this catastrophe, that it has reached Sao Paulo, which is more than 2700 km away.

The European Union’s satellite program, Copernicus, has released a map showing the smoke from the fires spreading across Brazil and even spilling into neighbouring countries like Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

And here’s a satellite image that NASA released.

So back to the questions we started with, “Why should this concern us?” As people who have faced the brunt of climate change in the past two years in the form of floods that have crippled Kerala, we know how important discussions about climate change are. The reduction of tropical rainforests in the Amazon will lead to an increase in global warming and it will have impacts all over the globe. And that’s where the “What can we do about it?” comes in.

You can voice your concern online through the hashtags #PrayforAmazonas and #ArmyHelpThePlanet. The objective is to bring about awareness and to get our leaders to take notice of this. This will get them to react and take action on a global level. Think of this as an online version of the elections. As of today, Germany and Norway have decided to freeze assistance that they were going to provide Brazil in the form of money. We need more countries to do the same and get Brazil to preserve the Amazon.

And then we come to “There are similar things happening all around us. What do we do?” Do what you can to change the world around you. You can start with conserving water in your house. Avoid using plastic, adopt a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Every action counts for as Obama said,

Govindan K
I believe in challenging the status quo; I believe in thinking differently. I think differently because I try to absorb knowledge from anyone - regardless of the industry they’re working in.

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