The Amazon is burning and nobody cares

The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen, contains more than half the species of plants, animals and insects on Earth, and now it is on fire. In reality, it is on fire every year, but this year has seen a 93 percent increase in fires from last year. 

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Amazon is naturally fire-resistant, even during the dry season. Most of the fires have likely been started by humans, either by accident or purposely. They report that, since January, 100,000 fires have started in the Amazon, recently burning at a rate of almost two soccer fields every minute. 

This spike has been caused by recent deforestation programs led by Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro. Most of the fires start after an area has been cleared of all trees for development for cattle grazers and soybean growers, leaving small, dry fuel behind. Bolsonaro has faced national criticism for his actions with the G7 even offering financial aid, which Bolsonaro’s special communications office promptly rejected, claiming that Brazil was not a colony in need of their help. 

However, to satisfy the large European powers, he committed the army to help fight the fires. He also signed a national decree that prevented forest blazing for 60 days. Multiple world leaders do not believe that Bolsonaro will do enough to fix the problem. France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, is skeptical of whether or not these measures will work and has been trying to assemble world leaders to intervene. Bolsonaro has responded stating that other nations have threatened Brazil’s sovereignty. Macron and Bolsonaro have been locked in squabbles through the media for some time now. 

The concerns for the forest are not only short term though. Many of the animals have nowhere to go to escape the flames, and scientists fear that the fire is killing species of trees as well, which could lead to extinction. The forest will regrow, as all forests do, but it may never be the same again. It has been discovered that burnt trees in the Amazon contain 25 percent less carbon than before. On top of that, it may take over 100 years to regrow, 100 years that scientists say our planet doesn’t have.

The Woolsey Fire in California last year burned 97,000 acres and 1,600 buildings over 13 days and 295,000 people were evacuated. In comparison, the Amazon fires have burned over 640 million acres and there have been over 70,000 fires since January. Satellite images show the smoke covering half of Brazil. The state of Amazonas has declared a climate emergency.

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