By: Jasmine Potts
Thousands of fires are burning across a southern swath of the Amazon. Why is the Amazon burning? The growing number of fires are the result of illegal forest clearing to create land for farming. Fires are set deliberately and spread easily in the dry season. The desire for new land for cattle farming has been the main driver of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon since the 1970s. As of today, fire rages in the Amazon are nearly double over last year but remain moderate in the historical context. The 41,858 fires recorded in the Amazon as of Aug. 24 this year are the highest number since 2010, when 58,476 were recorded by the end of August. If it keeps burning, it’s likely to turn into a completely different ecosystem, with fewer trees and different species of plants and animals. Many trees will die, and animals will lose their habitat – some species might disappear from the area entirely.
Most people are blaming Brazil for the cause of the burning Amazon. More experienced farmers stopped using fire to clear land decades ago because it can be so difficult to manage. Brazilian farmers say they’re being blamed unfairly for the fires which has caused a protest that took place Friday in São Paulo, Brazil. Protests held banners with a message that reads in Portuguese: “The Amazon belongs to the people.” Brazilians staged protests across the country. Also “Protesters swarmed the main bus station in the capital city of Brasília, packed over six blocks of downtown São Paulo and filled plazas across the northern cities of Recife, Manaus and Belém.” (Osborn). The protest is to voice outrage over fires burning through the Amazon. There are ways to prevent the fire from spreading and to stop it. We as consumers can eat less beef, reduce wood and paper consumption, and protect the acres of land. Protecting an Acre helps local activists regain control of sustainably managed traditional territories and fight against human rights abuses frequently associated with logging, pulp and paper mills. The Amazon rainforest plays an important part in regulating the world’s oxygen and carbon cycles. It produces roughly six percent of the world’s oxygen. As well as the vivid beauty that comes with great diversity in plants and animals, rainforests also play a practical role in keeping our planet healthy.
Osborn, Catherine. “SOS From Brazil’s Amazon Fire Protesters: ‘We Need The World’s Help Right Now’.” NPR.org, National Public Radio, 26 Aug. 2019, http://www.npr.org/2019/08/26/754292402/sos-from-brazils-amazon-fire-protesters-we-need-the-world-s-help-right-now.