Amazon rainforest on fire


21 Aug 2019
Life & Culture

The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning, but the Problem Is Bigger Than That

As you might have seen on social media, the Amazon rainforest is burning. With hashtags like #PrayforAmazonia trending on Twitter and Instagram, the fires are finally getting some attention after three weeks of burning down the most vital rainforest of the world.

The Amazon rainforest has been burning for weeks. There are very few numbers or confirmed details about the fires (which is probably the reason no big media outlets are talking about it), but the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) said its satellite data showed an 83% increase of fires on the same period in 2018. Earlier this month, the Brazilian state of Amazonas declared a state of emergency over a rising number of fires in the region.

Culprits: Extreme drought and the Brazilian Donald Trump

A rainforest doesn’t usually burn that easy (because of rain, you know), but the Amazon is now in its annual dry period. This year’s dry season is extreme and even worse than usual, which makes it easier for fires to spread. The cause of that drought is, you guessed it; global warming. The bad news is that the dry season has only just started. Typically, the dry season arrives in August and stops around November, with its peak in early September.

On top of that, there’s also Brazil’s new president Bolsonaro, who is an advocate of deforesting the Amazon for economic growth (farming, mining, …). Bolsonaro, who’s also being called the Brazilian Donald Trump, also cut a lot of the budgets for organizations that help preserve the Amazon. One of the first things he did when he became president was firing the entire board that controls the Amazon Fund. Conservationists have blamed Mr Bolsonaro, saying he has encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land by burning it down. Bolsonaro himself brushed off the latest data, saying it is the “season of the queimada”, when farmers use fire to clear land.

As a result of that, countries like Norway and Germany, who used to donate millions to Brazil’s Amazon Fund, have stopped their support to the organization. The oil-rich Norway nation (by far the biggest donor to the Amazon Fund) has provided $1.1bn to Brazil’s Amazon Fund since 2008.

São Paulo blackout

Yesterday, on August 20th, a thick blanket of smoke from wildfires caused a blackout in São Paulo. The most populated Brazilian city went dark at 3 in the afternoon and it lasted for about an hour, according to local newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. Due to a strong wind the thick plumes of smoke were transported nearly 2000 miles to the metropolis. Combined with cold, humid air from the coast, it caused the darkness.

People on Twitter were rightly wondering how heavy the fires must be in order to create such an amount of smoke to travel 2000 miles. Bolsonaro on the other hand seemed more worried about criminality than the fact that São Paulo went black because of another environmental disaster.

Sao Paulo blackout

Crisis at the Arctic

Apart from the Amazon rainforest also big parts of Greenland, Syberia and Alaska are on fire. The World Meteorological Organization stated: “The northern part of the world is warming faster than the planet as a whole. That heat is drying out forests and making them more susceptible to burn. A recent study found Earth’s boreal forests are now burning at a rate unseen in at least 10,000 years.”

Amazon rainforest on fire

What can we do?

Obviously big parts of the Amazon rainforest aren’t disappearing to provide for the Brazilian population only. Americans and Europeans are a large part of the problem. As always it’s a question of supply and demand.

What to do in the long term? Reducing our ecological footprint and eating less or no meat might seem like old news, but it’s extremely important in order to save planet earth. We wrote an article with tips on how to live a more environmentally sound life, be sure to check it out. You can also check out this article about 9 ways to help the Amazon rainforest during the fires and beyond.

Besides reducing our ecological footstep as much as possible, there’s one extremely important task we, as ordinary mortals have: making sure that the right politicians come into power. The fact that all around the world far-right is gaining power is an absolute disaster for our future. We might think they are the solution to our tiny obstacles at the moment. However, these parties generally have no interest in preserving nature or doing anything about the environmental issues we’re coping with.

What can we do right now? It’s essential to spread the message and gain awareness. You can do so by sharing the news on your socials and sign the petitions from Greenpeace and

Photo credits: Reuters

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