Sarah Grace Goolden
Record-breaking fires are ravaging the Amazon, garnering national attention. If the situation continues or worsens, it could be detrimental to our environment. However, the future of the Amazon is in the hands of quarrelling presidents.
There are several reasons why the Amazon is on fire. One is the practice “slash-and-burn,” which is used for agricultural reasons. Sections of rainforest are cleared and then set on fire. The result improves the soil. A big push for slash-and-burn is to illegally make room for cattle, as Brazil is the world’s top exporter for beef.
It’s important to note, fires in the Amazon are not inherently unusual, especially during the dry season. However, the rainforest is experiencing a higher number of fires that are lasting longer. From January to August, there have been 74,000 reported. This is compared to 40,000 in the same time period last year. These fires are the result of deforestation and human demand.
So who cares about a bunch of trees, right? Well, the Amazon rainforest is critical for our planet and everyone should be genuinely worried. 6 percent of the world’s oxygen is produced there. There are hundreds of species of flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The ecosystem is in danger as these fires rage on and this is not a battle human beings can afford to lose.
“The Amazon was buying you some time that it is not going to buy anymore,” said Carlos Quesada, a scientist at Brazil’s National Institute for Amazonian Research.
Political leaders and organizations have rushed to offer Brazil aid to save the rainforest. However, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has gotten into several personal spats, which are slowing that process down. Of course, the fires are continuing to devour irreplaceable wildlife as these grown men bicker.
The G7 nations pledged $22 million to the firefighting efforts, but Bolsonaro refused to accept it until French President Emmanuel Macron apologized and rescinded some previous comments he made regarding Bolsonaro’s environmental policies.
Many are blaming Bolsonaro for the severity of the fires. He wants to regulate the Amazon and pushes for agribusiness, which can lead to rampant forest fires. Whether or not the increase in fires is Bolsonaro’s fault, it is absolutely ridiculous to refuse money for a disaster that can potentially collapse an entire ecosystem and economy, because you dislike the representative of one of the countries offering it. Bolsonaro is endangering lives and our planet on the basis of pettiness. This is not middle school drama. This is not even politics. This is the future of our environment. We do not have the time to be arguing, especially about things that do not matter.
Bolsonaro has threatened to stop using Bic pens because they are French. The world is dying and the man that can do something about is angry about writing utensils. The Amazon rainforest may seem far away and not relevant to your everyday life but that’s just because you don’t realize where a lot of your products come from. We take our environmental resources for granted because we’ve become so accustomed to them. We cannot afford to lose such a valuable part of our planet.