The Amazon Rainforest is a hub of diverse plants and animals, as well as a major combatant against the acceleration of climate change. For the past month, the Amazon Rainforest has been on fire; environmentalists say that the way the Rainforest is burning is not natural. The Amazon Rainforest acts as a carbon sink that stops a lot of carbon dioxide from entering into the atmosphere, just as the oceans do.
Increased deforestation of the Amazon is one of the main reasons that the Amazon is burning at the fast rate that it is, according to environmentalists. The loss of mass areas in the rainforest will change the way the Amazon looks forever, making it increasingly drier than it has ever been, and many species will be lost due to the fires. Not only does the fire destroy mass parts of the diverse ecosystem, it also displaces many indigenous tribes that live in the Amazon.
In a Washington Post article published on Aug. 27, 2019, “What You Need to Know About the Amazon Rainforest Fires,” by Steven Mufson and Andrew Freedman, Thomas Lovejoy, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation and professor of environmental science at George Mason University stated, “The Amazon forest holds something like 90 billion tons of carbon, and if that ends up in the atmosphere it’s not a good thing.” According to Paulo Moutinho, a senior fellow at the Woods Hollow Research Center, in the same article, “That would equal a decade’s worth of global carbon emissions at current rates.” This means that the atmosphere would warm increasingly faster, speeding up climate change and its effects. The article states that there are 415 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere, and the Amazon destruction would add about 38 parts per million.
The cause of the forest fire in the Amazon is most likely due to human involvement in developmental practices occurring in the Amazon. Since January of this year the country has lost more than 1,330 square miles of forest cover due to development; which is a 39 percent increase from January of 2018, according to the Washington Post. Since the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, took office, mass amounts of development has occurred in the Amazon, increasing deforestation of the area.
Global leaders are sending soldiers and aid to the Amazon to help combat the fire, but recently President Bolsonaro has declined $20 million in aid from G7 global leaders [“The G7 (or Group of Seven) is an organisation made up of the world's seven largest so-called advanced economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States”]. Hashtags from social media sparked attention to the Amazon; the extent of the fires occurring in the Amazon are visible from satellite photos taken from space. Many leaders from around Brazil have sent aid to the country to help put out the fires. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, sent a Boeing 747 “Supertanker” that could carry over 30,000 gallons to help combat the fires. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is offering $15 million and “water bombers” to help combat the fires.
Increased social media awareness fueling the urgency of the issue and pushing for global leaders to help out, has brought awareness to the environmental issue. As of Aug. 28, the fires in the Amazon forest are ongoing, but support and aid has been sent to help combat the issue.