The Amazon rainforest is burning at a record rate. On Monday, Brazil’s largest state - the Amazonas - declared a state of emergency due to a rising number of fires in the region. So far this year, almost 73,000 fires have been detected by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which marks an 83% increase from 2018 and the highest number on record since 2013, according to Reuters.
While the Amazon rainforest is typically wet and humid, July and August are the region’s driest months, which leads to an increase in fire activity. Typically, such activity peaks in early September and mostly stops by November, according to NASA. Many people use fire as a mechanism to clear land for farming or other purposes, and environmentalists say that humans are the root of the Amazon fires — not wind or heat.
While forests are usually meant to absorb carbon, not produce it, the fires in the Amazon have created a layer of smoke estimated to be 1.2 million square miles wide, which can be seen in NASA satellite images all the way from space. The effects of damage to the Amazon go far beyond Brazil and the neighbouring countries affected, as the “lungs of the planet” the Amazon rainforest generates more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and 10% of the world’s biodiversity.
The surge in the number of fires has coincided with the arrival of right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who critics feel has emboldened farmers and ranchers use of fire to clear land to create pastures by removing penalties, therefore speeding up the rate of deforestation. Dismissing concerns about the number of fires in the Amazon, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s has said, “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame.” He has justified the situation by stating that “its just the time of the year when farmers use fire to clear land.” Since taking power, Bolsonaro has mitigated what government agencies used to do to protect the rainforest, while his ministers have also made clear that their sympathies are with farmers and loggers rather than indigenous groups who live in the forest.
“On the question of burning in the Amazon, which in my opinion may have been initiated by NGOs because they lost money, what is the intention? To bring problems to Brazil,” the President told a steel industry congress in Brasilia. In addition to this, he has claimed that there aren’t enough resources to fight the fires, though the government is still investigating. Moreover, the director of the INPE- Ricardo Galvão, was fired on August 2nd after defending data that showed deforestation was 88% higher in June than it was a year ago, CNN reported.
Here is what you can do to help
1) Donate to the following organisations
- The Rainforest Action Network will protect an acre of the Amazonian rainforest. https://www.ran.org
- /Rainforest Trust buys land in the rainforest, and has since 1988, saved over 23 million acres. https://www.rainforesttrust.org/
- The World Wide Fund for Nature works to protect the species in the Amazon and around the world. They offer emergency relief where it’s needed, raise awareness, and advocate for stronger environmental protections in Brazil. https://www.wwf.org.uk/where-we-work/places/amazon
- Amazon Watch is an organization that protects the rainforests and defends indigenous people. It also partners with other environmental groups to campaign for human rights, corporate accountability, and preservation of the Amazon’s ecosystems. https://amazonwatch.org
- Amazon Conservation Team partners with indigenous and local communities to protect tropical forests, fight climate change, and “strengthen traditional culture.” https://www.amazonteam.org/
- Amazon Conservation Association tells you exactly what your money is spent towards. You can help plant trees, sponsor education, protect habitats, buy a solar panel, preserve indigenous lands and more. https://www.amazonconservation.org
- One Tree Planted works to stop deforestation around the world and in the Amazon Rainforest, it keeps you updated on the Peru Project and the impact your trees are having on the community. https://onetreeplanted.org
- Ecosia.org is a search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches.
- The Rainforest Foundation US works on the ground to secure the land rights for indigenous communities. https://rainforestfoundation.org
2) Sign the following petitions
- A Brazilian lawyer in Rio Branco has accumulated over 77,000 of his 150,000 signature goal to mobilise an investigation in the Amazonian fires. Sign his Change.org petition now and help him reach his goal. http://chng.it/jsYtnLGZjQ
- Sign Greenpeace’s petition telling the Brazilian government to save the Amazon rainforest and protect the lands of indigenous and traditional communities.
3) Make the following changes
- Reduce your own consumption of paper and wood.
- Palm oil is in everything from bread to skincare products and is used by every major company including Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever, PepsiCo, L’Oreal, Kelloggs and more. Reducing your intake of these products can help make a small impact.
- Double-check with the Rainforest Alliance to see whether items you’re buying are considered rainforest-safe. You can also purchase rainforest-safe products from the alliance’s site itself.
- Tarini Ranadive
- https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-to-help-the-amazon-rainforest-on-fire-in-brazil-donation-deforestation-volunteering/ https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/08/241249/amazon-rainforest-fires-how-to-help-donate-organizations