The world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon, has been undergoing a catastrophe in recent weeks. The Amazon rainforest is experiencing a major wildfire problem that spanned over 8 countries in South America, including Brazil. 10,000 new fires have started from Aug. 18 to Aug. 23 near the Brazil region. The Amazon rainforest is a big deal because it contains various ecosystems and benefits the atmosphere globally; thus, damaging these woods would be disastrous. Behind all this chaos are human activities such as deforestation, farmers’ selfishness, and other political and commercial practices.
The Amazon Rainforest Is Important
The Amazon rainforest contributes a lot to our vital resources. It provides 20% of the world’s oxygen and is also home to 30 million people and millions of mammal species. The Amazon exchanges a lot of water and energy to the atmosphere by plants, a process known as evapotranspiration. Without the Amazon rainforest, there will be a lot less photosynthesis and plant transpiration occurring. This reaction is important for us, humans, because plants provide oxygen for us to breathe and reduce carbon dioxide in that region, which lowers the amount of greenhouse gases causing global warming. Thus, the tropical rainforest can control the climate of that region. Another ability of the rainforest is to keep the area moisturized so plants can grow and provide habitats for the organisms that live there. The Amazon is also a field of study in the research of tropical rainforest ecosystems. New species of animals and plants can be found every day. In conclusion, the Amazon rainforest is a place that shouldn’t be destroyed.
Deforestation Contributes To Wildfires
Massive deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is still happening. Deforestation is the process of cutting down trees to create more land to use and produce crops. 3/4 of the forest that was cut down in the Amazon was used for cattle-ranching. Trees were also cut down for other industrial work, but what loggers didn’t know is that the clearing of trees resulted in a dryer climate since the leaves from trees provide shade, which keeps the region cooler. Trees also provide moisture to the area by evapotranspiration. To summarize, if there are no trees, the area will be drier, which will consequently produce more wildfires.
Farmers and Ranchers Were Also The Causes
Scientists believed that 99% of wildfires were caused by human activities. For example, the selfishness of farmers and ranchers over gaining more land has resulted in more burning of trees. What the farmers and ranchers do is start fires in order to clear the trees so they can plant crops and gain more room for livestock. Their burning area spanned acres, which creates the wildfires in the Amazon at an alarming rate. Over the month of August, 2254 sq. km of land was lost. It’s not a natural disaster- the humans need to take the blame. As mentioned before, the clearing of trees resulted in deforestation. Humans are using trees in logging, and this action is illegal in South America. Although it’s illegal, the government still allowed deforestation in the Amazon rainforest to happen by ignoring them. Thus, human activities have severely threatened the Amazon rainforest ecosystem.
Other Factors Contributing To Amazon Wildfires
There are also other reasons behind this catastrophe. Although this reason may be particularly unbelievable, the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, participated and encouraged the farmers and loggers to cut down trees. He’s a pro-business president who is backed up by his country’s booming beef industry. The practice of clearing land for cattle by burning the woods is out of control. Secondly, we eat too much meat. The beef that we eat sacrificed the Amazon rainforest. We ignored the fact that the Amazon rainforest is also known as the planet’s lungs, believing that the taste of meat outweighs the world’s largest rainforest. Thus, we also indirectly contributed to the wildfires in the Amazon rainforest by endorsing deforestation and consuming meat.
There Are Solutions To Resolve This Mayhem
Many solutions are available. First, we need to eat less meat. Humans consuming meat is part of the problem because the beef farmers in Brazil are raising livestock to support the meat supply. Since Brazil is the largest beef exporter in the world, we can reduce our desire for beef to lower consumer demand. Secondly, we can plant trees, which will help recover Amazon’s deforestation, and also help us. Trees are essential to humans because they provide oxygen for us. Planting more trees can clean the atmosphere, so why not add more trees to our planet? Finally, Jair Bolsonaro needs to take the blame, since he didn’t step up to the situation. He instead promoted this money-making business and neglected the impact on the Amazon rainforest and the entire environment. Because Jair Bolsonaro is making this devastation a lot worse, he needs to be impeached. In conclusion, there are many more ways to save our planet’s lungs if we all do our part.
This OpEd is written by U4SC Student Intern, Aaron.
[Image Attribute: Anna & Michal]