What's Happening in the Amazon?
By Mariah Esquivel '21 and Romina Tongol '20
The Amazon fires started in January of 2019, and have only gotten worse. Up until now, about 76,000 fires have been recorded in the Amazon since the beginning of the year. The Amazon Rainforests play a major role in our ecosystem as they provide clean oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. National Geographic reported that 25-40% of the rainforests have been lost and can’t be preserved. Without the rainforests to intake CO2, climate change speeds up, according to The Verge. How the fires started lies in the hands of the farmers and Brazil’s President.
It’s clear that the fires and deforestation are tied together. Essentially, the Amazon was lit on fire in multiple areas of the forests’ edge by farmers. Farmers use a technique known as “slash and burn” to burn through a forested area to create a pasture, which is grass-covered land to help grow low plants and graze livestock. Although the “slash and burn” tactic can be useful for agricultural development, these fires can easily spiral out of control. In addition to increasing the pace of climate change, because the Amazon has been burning for so long, fires develop into a negative feedback loop, and the Amazon is now more prone to those fires.
Not only was the rainforest lit on fire, it also wasn’t properly protected. Brazil’s president as of last year, Jair Bolsanaro, had cut back protections of the Amazon and reduced funding to Brazil’s national environmental agency, according to ABC News. Illegal deforestation in Brazil now has lesser penalties. According to Vox, if deforestation continues, by 2050, 40% of the Amazon may be gone. But, if we were globally to contribute to helping the Amazon, we would be able to conserve what is left.
Eating ethically and spreading the word about what's happening in the Amazon are just a couple of ways you can contribute. Eating ethically means to cut down on the amount of beef and dairy you consume. About 80% of the deforestation is due to cattle ranching in the area, and that number has been increasing since the 1960s. Since demand for these products is tracked globally, reducing your beef and dairy intake (You don’t have to go vegan!) could help reduce deforestation. An easier way to show your support for the damage done in the Amazon Rainforests is by stopping by student park and buying a baked good or two! On November 13 we will be having a bake sale, where all proceeds will go towards The Amazon Conservation Team, which partners with indigenous and other local communities to protect tropical forests and strengthen traditional culture. Come by to show your support!