Brazil president’s actions set further flame to the Amazon

Category:  Opinions
Friday, September 6th, 2019 at 11:13 AM

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you may not have heard that the lungs of our earth, the Amazon rainforest, is on fire. And the fires are caused by not only natural reasons, but human influence and selfishness. That’s right, people are responsible for the burning of the forest, and people are depriving the world of a crucial shield against climate change.

I feel absolutely helpless sitting in my bedroom wondering: what on Earth do we do? The Amazon rainforest is 3,259 miles away from Edinboro, but I believe that by educating people on the who, what why and how of the situation, we can at least better understand our part.

The Amazon spans over 2 million square miles and sucks up 25 percent of the 2.4 billion metric tons of carbon that global forests absorb each year, according to National Geographic. The amount of carbon the Amazon takes in has pushed scientists to give the forest its nickname — “the lungs of the earth.”

However, the ability of the rainforest to breath in more carbon than it lets out is declining. The rainforest has been weakened by deforestation, changing weather patterns and several other factors. But these fires, which are occurring both naturally and by cause of humans, is further degrading its role.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of like having a planet to call home, and these fires pose a serious threat to our home. The fires have led to a spike in carbon monoxide emissions and planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions. Both of these are threatening to human health and aggravates global warming, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Just last week, roughly 7,000 square miles of the forest were in flames, an area just smaller than the size of New Jersey. The majority of fires observed in the Amazon region are caused by people. Many fires are set in the previously cleared out lands as a way to quickly remove excess vegetation.

Deforestation rates have steadily increased since May, mere months after Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, took office.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) found that 1,330 square miles of rainforest had been lost since January alone due to deforestation. Preliminary estimates from satellite data revealed that deforestation in June rose almost 90 percent compared with the same month last year, and by 280 percent in July.

The release of INPE’s deforestation statistics and the ensuing media coverage that came with them, rightfully so, angered Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro, who openly favors increased agricultural and mining development in the Amazon, has called the stats released by the INPE “a lie.” Bolsonaro then fired Ricardo Galvão, who had been the director of the INPE. Bolsonaro is a real winner, isn’t he? Nothing fishy going on there.

Analysis by The Washington Post has suggested that the losses within the forest over recent months has been absolutely disgraceful: “The Amazon is shedding roughly two football fields of forest every minute.”

While attending a Group of Seven (G7) meeting, Bolsonaro was offered $22 million of aid money from France. He declined the money. Amidst the declining the money, a disagreement with French president, Emmanuel Macron, and Bolsonaro broke out.

Bolsonaro and Macron engaged in a personal and public playground feud. Bolsonaro mocked Macron’s wife and accused Macron of disrespecting Brazil’s sovereignty. Macron called Bolsonaro “a liar” and said that Brazilian women are “probably ashamed” of him. Are we living in a reality show? Is this even real?

So what now?

I’m not a resident of Brazil. I cannot vote Bolsonaro out of office and save the regulations protecting the rainforest. What can we do to help our planet?

According to CBS News, in the wake of the fires, several organizations have stepped up to assist in aid efforts.

The Amazon Conservation Team is one. They help fight climate change, protect the Amazon and empower indigenous peoples.

Here are some more:

Amazon Conservation Association plants trees, sponsors education, buys solar panels and preserves indigenous lands.

The Rainforest Foundation supports environmental defenders, indigenous advocacy organizations and deforestation monitoring.

Though domestic policies and donations to charities are important and may be part of the change — long term solutions lie elsewhere.

Bolsonaro has not taken the hint. A political problem may demand a political solution. A threat to the environment should be seen as a national security threat to every country on this planet. If we cannot breathe, we cannot survive.

I want to live. I want you to live. I want humanity to have a future. No longer can we just accept civilians fighting for environmental justice. We need to vote and encourage our politicians to fight for change as well. As people who live on planet Earth, it’s our job to protect the only home we have. Not only for our current generations, but for the sake of future generations.

Tags: world news

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