Weeks of Raging Fires in the Amazon

Katie Keovongphet, Reporter

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After more than six weeks, the Amazon Rainforest is still in flames, posing threats to indigenous tribes and Brazilian citizens near the burning sites.

Wildfires are completely natural in forests and help balance out the ecosystem and get rid of extra debris. However, the fires in the Amazon are being intentionally set by those who want to use the land for agribusiness, ultimately leading to angry citizens, smog covered cities, and the loss of ancient forests. 

“If you look at the intensity of the fire, you’re talking about burning some substantial amount of forest,” AP Biology teacher Dustin Barth said. “If enough of it burns you could start affecting the concentration of carbon dioxide to oxygen.”

According to The Washington Post, the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil were filled with smoke from the fires in Bolivia and Rondonia on August 20. This poses a threat because it can lead to an emergence of health problems for those near the areas of the fires. 

“You can actually have carbon dioxide poisoning if you breathe too much of it in,” Barth said. “It’s not as bad as car exhaust because our bodies obviously can get rid of it, but if you’re breathing in a higher concentration of CO2 to O2, it’s going to be detrimental to physical activity, physical labor, [and] how you can move about.”

Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, encouraged the burning of the Amazon Rainforest when he was elected in January 2019, by limiting the number of fines received by those who illegally burned rainforest territory. 

On August 29, Bolsonaro sent out troops and placed a 60-day ban on the fires. Two days after the ban, more than 4,000 new fires were set by farmers that claimed to be showing support for Bolsanaro’s previous limit on rainforest deforestation fines. Some of the indigenous tribe reserves have already been burned down to make way for plantations and cattle farms. 

“Possible solutions would be to take the governor, or the person in charge, and hold them responsible,” junior Leslie Chico said. “He’s the one that’s responsible for basically tripling the deforestation rates [since] he’s been in office.” 

Barth also felt this was an issue within the government that needed to be addressed.  

“From the reports and the stories, it’s their own president who’s allowing the burning to take place,” Barth said. “If it was something that was accidental, then obviously we could be up in arms and get down there and put [the fires] out.”

On August 28, the G7, an international government organization consisting of leading economic powers France, Japan, Germany, Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, offered $20 million to assist with the Amazon fires in Brazil. 

President Trump was absent during the meeting, stating that he didn’t agree to help aid Brazil. Even so, French president Emmanuel Macron stated that the American president was with the G7 on the Amazon situation. Bolsonaro eventually accepted $12 million from the British government. 

While the continuous burning of the Amazon Rainforest is a major problem, there are additional forests that are seeing fires. The Arctic was ablaze a few months ago, and Indonesia has recently seen central Sumatra skies become blood red due to burning wildfires. 

Although the situation in the Amazon Rainforest might seem like a government issue, it doesn’t mean that citizens can’t help out. The burning of the forest isn’t only going to affect a small portion of the world—it affects everyone.

“The only thing we could do is actually make other people aware of it and start really talking to our senators, our representatives, because we feel like this is a global thing, not just isolated to one single country,” Barth said.

Plenty of funds and organizations exist that help support the world’s forests, including Ecosia, a free search engine that uses 80 percent of its profit to plant trees. Donating or simply installing apps like Ecosia could significantly help contribute to the increasingly depleting forests.

If everyone is willing to make changes and take action, the world’s largest rainforest and many others can be saved before it’s far too late. 

 

Here are a few links to organizations that support the forests:

Ecosia: https://www.ecosia.org 

Rainforest Foundation: https://rainforestfoundation.networkforgood.com

Amazon Watch: https://amazonwatch.org

Earth Alliance: https://ealliance.org/

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