An aerial view over a chemically deforested area of the Amazon jungle caused by illegal mining activities in the river basin of the Madre de Dios region in southeast Peru, on May 17, 2019, during the 'Mercury' joint operation by Peruvian military and police ongoing since February 2019. - Illegal mining activities for gold have caused irreversible ecological damage to more than 11,000 hectares of Amazonian forest and river basins, generating illicit activities in parallel such as human trafficking, mercury trafficking, hired killers and prostitution. (Photo by Cris BOURONCLE / AFP) (Photo credit should read CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images)

The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning at a Record Rate & We Should All Be Concerned

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The Amazon has often been referred to as the planet’s lungs, since it alone produces around 20% of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere. Yet, as it burns at record rates, there is an underwhelming amount of public attention and outcry about it.

CNN is reporting that fires in the Amazon rainforest are burning at a record rate, and scientists warn it could strike a serious blow to the fight against climate change. The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has been tracking the fires since 2013 and has noted that there has been an 80% increase in comparison to the same period last year. There has been a total of 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, with more than half in the Amazon region, INPE said.

Basically, the lungs of our planet are in serious danger.

The Amazon is also home to innumerable species of fauna and flora as the largest rainforest on the planet, not to mention these fires are also affecting the local populations around the rainforest. Reports have said that the smoke has reached all the way to Sao Paolo, which is located over 1,700 miles away. Images from the city show the sky pitch black in the middle of the afternoon, the sky and sun blanketed by smoke and ash. The scene looks like the beginning of an ice age that is about the bring about the end of the world. That may sound hyperbolic, but it’s only because this kind of damage to the planet can be irreparable and speed up already catastrophic climate change predictions.

Environmental activists and organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have warned that if the Amazon reaches a point of no return, the rainforest could become a dry savannah, no longer habitable for much of its wildlife. If this happens, instead of being a source of oxygen, it could start emitting carbon, which is one of the main agitators of climate change.

With a stable climate, fires are a naturally occurring and important part of regulating the ecosystem, allowing old life to die and new life to come from it, but an 80% increase in fires so suddenly is not naturally occurring. It’s happening because of the instability we have allowed to happen.

Activists have placed a lot of the blame for this on Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right leader, who has weakened environmental protections and encouraged deforestation, which leads to results like the one seen in our header image. Getty describes that image like this:

“An aerial view over a chemically deforested area of the Amazon jungle caused by illegal mining activities in the river basin of the Madre de Dios region in southeast Peru, on May 17, 2019, during the ‘Mercury’ joint operation by Peruvian military and police ongoing since February 2019. – Illegal mining activities for gold have caused irreversible ecological damage to more than 11,000 hectares of Amazonian forest and river basins, generating illicit activities in parallel such as human trafficking, mercury trafficking, hired killers and prostitution .”

Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency has seen its budget cut by $23 million, and Bolsonaro has called environmental concerns “lies” that are hurtful to trade negotiations, because being “pro-business” is more important to him than protecting the planet we all live on.

Just like people felt motivated to protect the historical piece of work that was Notre Dame, I sure hope all the celebrities who claim to care about the planet put their wallets where their mouths are. The rainforest needs to be protected, and since it seems like Bolsonaro cares more about money than his people, it will take money to invest in making sure we don’t allow climate change to worsen even sooner than expected.

(via CNN, image: CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.