“The lungs of the Earth” are choking, while the rest of the world sleeps unaware. The Amazon rainforest covering the areas of Brazil, Bolivia, Columbia and the Pantanal are currently burning again.
There have been 2213 fires alone on August 1 & 2, 2020, overtaking the August 2019 period by 55%. Compared to the last ten year average, July 2020 saw the number of forest fires increase by 25%. Greenpeace Brazil has stated that 1007 fires were recorded on July 30, 2020, the highest since 2005.
Anna Jones, Greenpeace’s head of forests said, “The Amazon is perilously close to its tipping point. Scientists warn that in fewer than 20 years, it could collapse with catastrophic consequences for indigenous groups, forest wildlife, health and the climate.”
According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), there has been a 30% jump in the number of fires compared to 2018 and an area of 3069 square kilometres was cleared.
The ongoing deforestation combined with forest fires will have a massive impact on the biodiversity of the Amazon and will also lead to drastic consequences for the indigenous tribes. Due to the recent trend of deforestation in Brazil, an area larger than the city of Sao Paulo was cleared in July alone.
The vast majority of these huge fires, where increased aerosol levels in the smoke have been found, indicate that large amounts of biomass were burnt and it occurred in areas where deforestation recently took place.
A far-right climate crisis skeptic, Jair Bolsnaro has been encouraging deforestation and using the cleared land for industrial purposes. He is emboldening illegal loggers, miners, and land speculators with his short-sighted vision and his ideas of “development”.
U.S. space agency NASA posted on its website, “Warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean in 2020 have elevated the risk of fires in the southern Amazon. As a result, the southern Amazon landscape becomes dry and flammable, making human-set fires used for agriculture and land clearing more prone to growing out of control and spreading.”
As the world struggles with COVID-19, doctors are worried that different viruses and diseases trapped in the ice for millions of years will be released due to warming temperatures.
The rainforest is one of the most vital resources humans have in slowing down global warming. It is one of the largest carbon sinks as it absorbs a large amount of carbon emissions but due to the fires carbon is being released back into the atmosphere resulting in a warmer climate. With the ongoing health crisis, the ecosystems of the Amazon and the carbon sequestration potential is threatened. The rate at which the forest fires is being destroyed, the war against climate change seems like a losing battle.
The outcomes of this destruction are dire. From Siberia to Amazon, fires are raging throughout the world. Losing our forests indicates our defeat in the climate crisis, entire ecosystems are at stake, biodiversities prone to extinction, and put the lives of Indigenous Peoples and people who depend on the forest for their livelihood at immense risk. According to the WWF, the Amazon is the most biologically diverse place and if it collapses, many species would be at risk due to habitat loss.
As humans, we need to stop exploiting nature. We need to hold governments accountable for their relentless plundering of the Earth’s resources, corporations should reduce their carbon emissions which have a huge environmental impact and provide us with sustainable products and services. We need to consciously reduce our carbon footprint and aid businesses that are eco-friendly. Continuous misuse and over-exploitation of our resources have created the climate crisis. To protect ourselves and the Earth from the devastating effects of climate change, we need climate action and we need it Now.