The lungs of the earth are choking from smoke. We're sure we aren't the only people who checked their Twitter or Instagram feeds and were deeply shocked by the visuals of flames licking the Amazon's greenery and blackness covering São Paolo. A feeling of general helplessness can't help but wash over us. After all, the Amazon is in Brazil (among other nations) and we're in Ireland.
We can still offer our own assistance to the species of the rainforest, can fight Governmental idleness and capitalist greed and stop the extinction of Indigenous people. There is still time, if we act now.
The Amazon rainforest provides one-fifth of the entire world's oxygen supply, but what if it burns to cinders? Essentially climate breakdown will be irreversible.
The forest acts as a carbon sink, absorbing more CO2 than it emits while releasing oxygen, and stocking 90 to 140 billion tonnes of CO2, which regulate worldwide global warming, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Deforestation is reducing this capacity for absorbing CO2.
Illegal deforestation is taking place and forest fires are being started for cattle farming in Brazil, the world's biggest exporter of beef. What can you do to help? Well, stop eating and buying beef.
The entire Amazon rainforest has been ablaze for three whole weeks, yet media coverage is only really kick-starting now.
Many are correctly pointing out the irony that the Notre Dame fire, which killed or injured no one and didn't even result in significant damage, resulted in billionaires throwing money at it within seconds.
The most important ecological landscape in the world, which houses one-quarter of the Earth's species; namely 30,000 types of plants; 2,500 fish; 1,500 birds; 500 mammals; 550 reptiles and 2.5 million insects, according to the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO).
In the past 20 years alone, 2,200 new species of plants and vertebrates have been discovered there. As the largest tropical forest in the world, it covers 5.5 million square kilometres.
Reports are now saying that if we lose just one more fifth of the rainforest, it will trigger a feedback loop known as dieback. This essentially means that the forest will dry out and burn in a cascading system collapse that no amount of human intervention can save.
The Amazon rainforest provides 20% of the world's oxygen. People are deliberately starting fires in effort to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching. President Bolsonaro is letting this slide!! #AmazonRainforest #PrayforAmazonas pic.twitter.com/9pWraNgWu6
— (@negativiq) August 21, 2019
The amount of deforestation taking place in the Amazon has increased by around 68 percent since Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has entered office.
He has basically declared war on the environment, threatening to wipe out the whole department in the Government and even blames NGOs for the forest fires.
The majority of the deforestation in the Amazon takes place to make room for cattle farmers to export beef and soy products, so a boycott of these products is an absolute must.
Here are some actions you can take to avoid feeling hopeless:
1. Most deforestation in the Amazon is for beef or soy, which is then fed to livestock. Eat less meat + avoid Brazilian soy products.
2. Write to your politicians – let them know this is a big deal!
— Dani Rabaiotti (@DaniRabaiotti) August 21, 2019
Bolsonaro accused non-governmental organisations of setting wildfires in the Amazon rainforest to damage his government's image, despite presenting no evidence to back up this ridiculous claim.
Bolsonaro has also threatened the exctinction of Brazil's Indigenous population, much of which reside as tribes in the Amazon. Corporations are allowed by the President to illegally confiscate their land, burn it to ash and farm on it.
The Amazon has been inhabited for at least 11,000 years and today counts 34 million people, of whom two-thirds live in cities.
Hey y'all. If you know me, you know I very rarely insist on personal action re: climate crisis. But if you want to do something about the #AmazonRainforest and the killing of Indigenous people, the easiest and most impactful thing you can do is stop eating beef. Let me explain.
— nylah burton (@yumcoconutmilk) August 21, 2019
Nearly three million people are members of some 420 different tribes, of which about 60 are completely isolated in the Amazon forest, according to ACTO.
Alarmingly, according to the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, there has been an 84 percent increase in wildfires this year and more than 9,500 last week alone
A blackout in São Paulo on Monday sparked worldwide concerns, with the city being submerged into darkness at 3pm. São Paulo is almost 3,000 km away from the rainforest, yet the sky became entirely black, showing the extent of the fires.
The AMAZON rainforest has now been burning for 16 DAYS Non stop??
The amazon is responsible for 20% of the world’s OXYGEN
THIS IS AS SCARY AS IT GETS!!!
— (@ParryGovil) August 22, 2019
Indigenous people are among the most vulnerable in society, and history has not been kind to them when it comes to colonisation and economic capitalist gain.
Sign as many Greenpeace petitions as you can, write to your Government asking them to demand action, and change your lifestyle to exclude Brazilian beef and soy products. Buy deforestation-free products.
Almost 20 percent of the Amazon forest has disappeared in the last half-century, according to the WWF, and this is accelerating at a massive and terrifying rate.
We can't simply see the images on our phones and become disconnected from the dangers, and assume the death of Earth's lungs won't affect us.
The Amazon rainforest is one of the reasons why Earth has managed to stay alive, and we need to save it and it's animal and wildlife inhabitants.
Feature image: Instagram/@ocean_armour