Amazon Fires and Climate Change


Mallory Greenamyer, Junior Staff Writer

Climate change: a simple phrase that most people in 2019 hear all the time.  It seems as though every time something disastrous happens, everyone recognizes there is a problem and speaks out on how to stop it. However, eventually everything is essentially forgotten until the next time something terrible occurs. Although the media might forget about such events, it does not mean that climate change is not a problem any more. Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, president of the General Assembly in the United Kingdom, states that “Eleven years is all we have ahead of us to change our direction,” and that, “2019 must be the year of climate action at all levels.” Being that 2019 is almost over nothing will be fixed unless climate change becomes a topic that is talked about daily and on an international level.

 At the beginning of this year, a catastrophic event occurred in the Amazon rainforest. Cattle ranchers and loggers began to burn the “lungs of the Earth,” to utilize the land for their businesses. Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organization Amazon Watch, states that “the vast majority of these fires are human-lit,” and that unlike other forests, the Amazon does not catch on fire easily, even through the dry season. About 99% of the fires are caused by human error, whether because of accidents or because people do it on purpose. 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, made promises during his campaign to help the economy by utilizing the Amazons potential. It has now occurred to people that this “potential,” is encouraging ranchers and loggers to burn the forest. Bolsonaro has denied that he is the reason behind these events. He has even blamed the fires on non profit organizations that wanted to “generate negative attention” to him. However, much evidence has shown Bolsonaro in a negative light. For example, around 23 million dollars were cut out of Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency’s budget (an organization to help keep the environment safe in Brazil). Not only that, but the director of INPE was fired by Bolsonaro after he defended data that showed that there was an 88% increase in forest fires in the past year. Farmers have taken part of “fire days,” which are organized days in which several groups of people coordinate their burnings. These types of events are all based on Bolsonaro theory of using the Amazon for business purposes.

The environment is greatly affected by the rainforest burning. However, the “lungs of the Earth” being harmed may lead to human’s lungs being damaged too. According to Dr. Diana Gall from Doctor4U, “when you breathe in smoke you’re inhaling all sorts of harmful smoke particles, chemicals and gases, which can cause damage to the respiratory tract and cut off your supply of oxygen.” She also mentions that too much smoke inhalation can lead to conditions such as COPD, asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Kobe Krisuk, a junior at Hubbard High School, says he is shocked at the amount of damage this is causing and says, “I wish everyone could see that there are true consequences for their actions. I think the environment and people’s well being depends on it.”

Although some might say that these rainforests burning are only affecting people now, that is not entirely true. Rise in temperature is causing poisonous algae to grow, reduced rainfall, and temperature-dependent fish to change their habitats. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is also expected that flooding will occur more often because of the temperature change. These are only a few of the hundred’s of problems that are caused by the Amazon rainforest being burned down.

 Ranchers have been burning the forest for quite some time, however, not at such an alarming rate as now. These workers wait for the dry season – which starts in September- to burn the trees. Their main goal is to clear out the land to make room for cattle and other animals to graze. Being that agriculture is a huge industry in these countries, it makes it very hard for things to change. However, there are things that people can do to help save the rainforests and prevent climate change. These include donating to organizations such as Amazon Watch, reducing wood and paper consumption, and voting. Voting for officials that will be pro-Earth is a huge way for people to help to stop things like this from happening. Junior Ellie Lambert says, “I really feel strongly about saving the environment. When I heard about the Amazon rainforest I wanted to do anything I could to help.” It’s the human race’s responsibility to protect the Earth, no matter what, even if that means bringing an end to big businesses in South America.

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