Weeks ago the world discovered the “lungs of the planet” were burning at a disturbing rate. The fires had raged for weeks an outcry on social media about the lack of media coverage ensued. But have we already forgotten about the fires and what has caused them, aw well as the repercussions?
Agriculture is a driving force in Brazil’s economy, and the pressure to develop farmable land to increase crop production is mounting. While farmers have been blamed for starting the fires, the world has condemned Brazil’s leader for rolling back environmental measures that may have inspired these fires. President Jair Bolsonaro was criticized by world leaders for decreasing funding environmental protections for the Amazon.
The Amazon is home to more than just an amazing array of animals and plants. Indigenous communities have called the Amazon home for thousands of years. Once their homelands are lost, so are a multitude of cultures that depend on the forest. While taking care of the land, these people have also protected the forest from miners, loggers and farmers that seek to destroy it for monetary gain.
But we should still appreciate the Amazon for more than its beauty and biodiversity. It’s one of the last defenses we have against climate change. The trees in the world’s largest forest keep up to 400 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere, according to USA Today.
What’s really scary is that once the forest reaches what scientists call a “tipping point,” where the forest can’t rebound from the fires, it could be a strong force for worsening climate change. What used to be a flourishing ecosystem could transform into a dry savanna that won’t host a fraction of life it once did, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
In today’s world of social media, it’s common for a cause to go viral and then forgotten the next day. We can’t let the fires raging in the Amazon fade away into the news of yesterday, especially when the fate of the planet is tied to the survival of the forest. If we want to create a better world for those who are coming after us, we need to ensure that Earth remains a habitable, healthy place to live.
Save the Amazon not only for yourself, but for everyone else on this planet.