SOS. The Earth’s lungs are on fire. I REPEAT. The Earth’s lungs are burning in flames!
The Amazon rainforest, the home to a bewildering array of wildlife and tropical vegetation is on fire for WEEKS. Thousands of fiery infernos rage across the National park, destroying everything in sight. It’s been estimated that since August 15th, 9,500 new fires have started burning across Brazil, mainly in the Amazon area.
What makes this even more devastating and terrifying is the fact that this year, scientists at Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research have recorded more than 74,000 fires in Brazil. That twice as much than last year’s estimate of 40,000. This means that there is an 83% increase in wildfires in comparison to 2018.
And we are finding about this now?
The heavy smoke coming from the Amazon forest (1,700 miles away from Sao Paolo) created a daytime blackout and on Monday the sky over Sao Paolo turned dark. It was so dense that it was visible from the NASA satellites. All in all, the fires have created a layer of smoke 1.2 million square miles wide.
Josélia Pegorim, Climatempo meteorologist, said: “The smoke did not come from fires from the state of São Paulo, but from very dense and wide fires that have been going on for several days in Rondônia and Bolivia.
Additionally, data from the Brazilian satellites indicated that the raging fires are responsible for shrinking the Amazon forest by 519 square miles (1,345 square kilometers). This horrifying week of fires has created one of the most alarming environmental catastrophes.
And without a doubt, we are the only ones to blame.
What makes this event one of the most horrifying environmental catastrophes that the world has ever experienced is the fact that the Amazon rainforest has one of the most crucial roles in keeping us alive. Covering 2.1 million square miles and being the largest rainforest on the planet, the Amazonian rainforest produces 20 percent of the oxygen that we breathe. This corner of the Earth plays a crucial role in keeping our planet’s carbon-dioxide levels in check and slowing down global warming. That is why it is often referred to as “the lungs of the Earth”.
Generally, the dry season in Amazonia starts in July and lasts until October. The wetter weather and the humidity that is typical for the rainforest are what minimize the risk of fires throughout the whole year.
During the dry season, fires are mostly caused by natural sources such as thunderstorms and lighting strikes. However, this clearly isn’t the case this time. It is believed that the fires have been purposefully started by farmers and loggers who wanted to clear a broad area of the Amazon that could later be used for agricultural and industrial use.
This is a practice that has been occurring very often since farmers sometimes set the rainforest ablaze to make space for their crop fields and their cattle. That is how things usually get out of hand and create dark scenarios like the one that we are now facing.
Brazil controls a bigger part of the Amazon. However, Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil has stated that protecting the rainforest is not one of his top priority. His indifference about the significance of the rainforest is exactly what motivated farmers to act the way they did.
First, his administration cut down on the seizing of illegally harvested timber, harvesting only 1,410 cubic feet, which is nothing compared to the 883,000 cubic feet that were seized in 2018 (under the previous administration).
Then in January, Bolsonaro’s government decreased the monitoring on illegal activities in the rainforest and lowered the number of the fines issued for illegal deforestation which pretty much gave farmers the freedom to do whatever they want, without thinking how hazardous their actions can be for all of us.
The final straw was his response to the uncontrolled fires all across Brazil. “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame,” Bolsonaro said. “But it is the season of the quemada.”
Brazilian federal prosecutors have said that they are opening an investigation into the rise of the deforestation of the Amazonian rainforest and that they will get to the bottom of this devastating event.
Meanwhile, we cannot convince ourselves that there is nothing we could do but #PrayForAmazon. Our world is up in flames and if we don’t do something to save it, we are going down as well. Praying won’t protect our forests. It won’t save us from total devastation of our planet. Our actions will!
Global warming is real, and it is happening right now. Warmer weather is coming and with it the likelihood of wildfires all around the world. Overall, 2019 is already the third hottest year globally according to Climate Central. Which means that if we don’t start taking some serious action right now, we might not live to see another day.
If you are interested in making a real change, make sure to click on the Amazon Conversation Association and inform yourself about what’s really happening and how you can make a tax-deductible donation.