The Amazon is the largest tropical forest in the world, covering more than five million square kilometres across nine countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. It acts as an enormous carbon sink, storing up to an estimated 100 years worth of carbon emissions produced by humans, and is seen as vital to slowing the pace of global warming yet worryingly, in the last 50 years alone 20% of the rainforest has already disappeared.
Although the Amazon rain forest has been burning now for 3 weeks, it was only last week I happened to find out. Scrolling through my Facebook news feed I came across a picture of a gibbon cradling her lifeless youngster alongside a poignant tagline suggesting that the media cares more for politics and immigration than it does our planet. When Notre Dame was a light the whole world was sharing the images, it was on every front page and every news channel. Yet something as precious as the Amazon rain forest which has a very important job to do is seemingly less important.
The fire still rages on, consuming an area the size of a football pitch every single minute – the blaze is so huge that it is visible from space. I cant begin to imagine how many animals have perished in those flames, I don’t want to.
Having had a little read of what causes fires so huge in the Amazon I came across an interesting find. The number of fires in Brazil is the highest ever recorded since 2013 and is up 85% from last year alone – the space centre has detected more than 80,000 fires this year!! President Jair Bolsonaro has announced he is sending 43,000 Brazilian troops to battle the blazes but he has come under stark criticism for his encouragement of deforestation which many believe is the contributing factor to the fires in the first place
The rain forest is usually wet and humid which is not a great environment for fires to start and take hold but it would appear the years of logging and annual burns where land is cleared for farming and ranching have taken its toll. Less canopy means dryer land below and the perfect conditions for blazes to catch and become almost impossible to put out.
I guess everyone has their own opinion on the whys and hows, all I know is that we need to start realising that Earth is not ours to do what we want with, we’re simply Mother Natures lodgers and will have a heavy price to pay if we continue to destroy her planet.