The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most beautiful and fascinating natural areas on the globe. It’s teeming with thousands of animal species, including over 5,000 kinds of fish in the Amazon River, one of the longest rivers. In addition to animals, there are thousands of species of plants, with 16,000 genera of trees and 30,000 different kinds of flowers. Unfortunately, as is common with the environment and climate, the Amazon Rainforest is on fire and is quickly being destroyed. However, unlike fires occurring in California and in other parts of the world, the fires in the Amazon may not have been caused by accident.
Since June of 2019, fires have been raging across Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay and there have been 40,000 fires during this year alone. For context, in California, which has been burning since 2018 and most of 2019, there were only 6,190 fires. Both numbers are devastating, but the Amazon has most certainly seen the worst of it. The rainforest has already lost 2,240,000 acres of land to the fires and it’s still going. However, in California, even though there isn’t much help coming from the government in Washington DC, there has been aid coming from first responders and people sending money to help and the government in California has been working tirelessly to combat the fires.
The situation in the Amazon has been less supportive. While there have been responses from the army and a G7 emergency summit along with relief aid, not much has been done. The governments of the affected countries seem to be the ones to blame for the lack of action, especially the president of Brazil, Jai Bolsonaro. His policies and beliefs are very pro business and this has caused problems for the environmentally focussed programs in Brazil and other parts of South America. In addition to that, Bolsonaro only sent in the army under threat of rejection from the European Union-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement. In other words, he only sent in help because someone pressured him. Bolsonaro has also weakened the programs and policies that protect the rainforest, which lead many people to believe that the fires were linked with deforestation and were actually set on purpose.
The people in the South American Government seem to not even care. If the forest is cleared out, then it’s all for the better because there is new land for business and real estate right? Wrong. While the land may help the economy, it will cause disaster for the ecosystem and climate. Rainforests are a vital part of keeping the climate in balance by emitting large amounts of oxygen into the air…you know the stuff we need to breathe? Not to mention all the species of animals that may go extinct due to lack of food or habitat.
Despite the protests from people across the continent, saying that the government do more to combat this disaster, nothing is being done. Scientists believe that this fire may be a tipping point for climate change. Without the large mass of trees and plant life to emit oxygen, more and more carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere. If things continue to be left alone, and President Bolsonaro continues to prioritize business and making money over keeping one of the most beautiful ecosystems alive and thriving, the world will only suffer more.