Aug 22, 2019

Rainforests are known for their beautiful and vast ecosystem housing a diversity of plants and animals. Beyond their beauty, rainforests also play an important role in keeping the planet healthy by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen for our survival. On the other hand, rainforests also maintain the world’s water cycle by adding water to the atmosphere. 

The Amazon River Basin is the home of the largest rainforest in the planet, making it a hotspot for biodiversity that local tribes and communities, and even the rest of the world benefits from. How? This rainforest acts as an essential carbon store, which slows the pace of global warming. 

However, because of the continuous change in our environment, wildfires have been happening at an alarming rate. These fires often occur during Brazil’s dry season but they also happen because of the deliberate illegal deforestation in the area for cattle ranching. 

According to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), satellite data showed an 84 percent increase in wildfires with 72,000 cases so far, 9,500 of which transpired last week. Because of these wildfires, a large part of Brazil has been covered in dark smoke. 

Brazil’s current President Jair Bolsonaro is being criticized for it. Scientists have pointed out that the Amazon has suffered from these rampant wildfires since Bolsonaro took office, blaming his environmental policies. The fires also shed light on its government’s anti-indigenous people’s policy where the locals are forcibly being displaced from their homes and killed as a silencing method.

The head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Ricardo Mello told BBC that the “fires were a consequence of the increase in deforestation seen in recent figures.” 

Whether or not the government is liable for these fires, it’s still a wake-up call for Brazilians and citizens of the world alike. If something as big and as vital as the Amazon can be compromised and remain unnoticed, that says a lot about how we treat the Earth.

 

Header photo courtesy of Nathalia Segato on Unsplash

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TAGS: Amazon Brazil environment rainforest wildfires