The Amazon Rainforest is the world’s biggest rainforest and a key player in the ecosystem of our earth. It is currently burning. Farmers in Brazil have been burning the Amazon for decades for farmland. There has been a sharp increase in August that has captured the attention of celebrities, politicians, and the public.
The fires in the Amazon were not started naturally. The fires were started by farmers in need of more space to grow their crops. These fires start controlled but often get out of hand. Most of these farmers are inexperienced and as a result of this, the fires can spread farther than the farmers intend it to.
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has supported these fires since his campaign and encouraged farmers to start the fires. Since his time as president, the fine for starting a fire has been reduced. From 2010 to 2019 Brazil’s Environmental Protection Agency’s budget has been cut by 45 percent, half of those cuts were by Jair Bolsonaro, it is currently on the brink of collapse.
There were 66,000 fires in August, an increase of 77 percent from this time last year. This has burned thousands of kilometers of rainforest. Some people are wondering, “why should we care?” The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most diverse ecosystems with over 10 million species of plants and animals, including 2633 endangered species. Additionally, it is a major carbon store. When trees are burned carbon dioxide is emitted into the air.
Although we could still breathe without the amazon our carbon dioxide levels would rise drastically from burning the trees, further digging humankind into the hole that is climate change. The Amazon absorbs 5% of all of the Earth’s carbon emissions, or 2 billion carbos tons. We would also lose thousands of species of plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world.
Although the situation in the amazon looks grim, there is still hope. Jair Bolsonaro has declared a 60-day ban on the fires. He has also sent troops to help stop the fires. Although the fires will stop sometime no one can tell how much more catastrophic damage will come until the fires stop their trail of destruction.