Brazil’s forests are on fire.
I’m sure everyone remembers last year’s tragic reports of over 310,000 acres of biodiverse forests deteriorating in the Amazon. Shockingly, the fires increased by 83% compared to the same period of the previous year.
In 2020, we’re on the same tragic track: in July, there have already been 30% more fires across the country than in July 2019.
About 17% of Amazon has already been deforested. Researchers estimated that if we reach a peak of 20-25%, more than half of the Amazon rainforest will be destroyed – characterized by flat, dry treeless areas, endangering 15% of the world’s biodiversity.
How did this happen?
Fires in the Amazon dry season are mainly caused by people either clearing land, or burning felled trees or forest from which valuable woods have already been removed.
Much of that land becomes cattle pasture, responsible for 80% of deforestation in all Amazon countries. Greenpeace analysis showed that among the Amazon municipalities worst-hit by fires in the first 10 days of August were some of the region’s most important cattle producing areas.
According to Romulo Batista, senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace Brasil, the forest fires themselves have occurred as a direct result of this government’s lack of an environment policy. While natural fires occur every year, combined with Jair Bolsonaro’s policies, human-caused fires have increased exponentially.
Bolsonaro’s reign has seen a concerted effort by the government to prioritise Brazil’s economic growth, which in turn, has impacted the Amazon.
Then came COVID-19…
How has COVID-19 affected Brazil’s forest fires?
Indeed, one of the most alarming problems associated with the Coronavirus pandemic is the destruction of the rainforests.
Human-caused fires are not only posing a major threat to the ecology of various regions in Brazil, but the smoke is also exacerbating the COVID-19 problem – placing additional stress on people’s lungs.
Brazil is a particular country that has been drastically affected by COVID-19. And now with the pandemic diverting the attention away from the fires, it seems like the Amazon is in a serious state of distress.
It will take coordinated action to fight the pandemic and forest fires at the same time. Tropical forest fires are caused by humans and must be stopped by humans. Otherwise, an ecological disaster and a health crisis could converge in the tropics, sending shockwaves around the world.
What does this have to do with the Ocean?
As the statement goes, everything relies on everything else.
An ecosystem is a community of plants, animals and other living organisms that co-depend on one another and share the benefits of a particular space or habitat. These benefits include food, water etc.
Consequently, the fires caused in the amazon will have a direct impact on everyone across the world. As fires burn, they release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere as a product of combustion. The carbon dioxide has to then go to someone. Unfortunately for us, the ocean is the place where much of the CO2 is released, acting like a sponge, absorbing the chemicals into the water and polluting marine life as a result.
How can you help?
In addition to donating to specific organizations, experts are urging consumers to put their money to work by supporting business and companies working toward sustainable goals. You can also help the work activists are currently undertaking by raising awareness via sharing posts on social media platforms to reach to wider audiences to cultivate a ‘movement’. You can also help by downloading apps such as Ecodia or educate yourself on the matter.
Alternatively, you can contribute money and support local NGOs protecting Brazilian forest and indigenous groups who will be directly affected by the forest fires.
Together, we can all make a difference!