By: Jaden Muller
Despite its media coverage, the Earth’s lungs continue to fill with smoke…
Flames envelope the once lush greenery of the largest rainforest in the world. The root of this problem stems from those who need it the most: people.
The Amazon rainforest accounts for approximately 21% of the world’s oxygen and can take anywhere from 65 to 4,000 years to regenerate. This year, there have been 1,975 more fires than there were in 2018.
Brazil’s environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, claimed that the fires resulted from a combination of bad weather patterns including dryness, heat, and wind.
Since it is currently Brazil’s dry season, this explanation holds some truth, however, the majority of the places where the fires are taking place tells a different story.
Naturally occurring fires usually are found in areas where there is a lot of old growth, but the location of many of these fires don’t follow this pattern.
The most speculated cause for these fires are groups of people who can profit off of the land, specifically soybean farmers and cattle ranchers.
Many believe that many of the fires were already sectioned off by the government to be clear. Deforestation within the Amazon has risen by 85% this past year and will continue to do so if regulations don’t change.
Still in the midst of his first term as president, Brazil’s leader, Jair Bolsonaro has not done much in order to control this outbreak of flames.
Bolsonaro’s policies do not express the most concern for the state of the environment, specifically encouraging less regulations surrounding the rainforest in order to make more room for corporations.
Fiona Watson, an advocacy director at the Survival International, illustrates how the pattern of these fires have differed from the past years.
“It’s clear to me that a lot of these fires are set off deliberately,” she said. “The difference now is that with Bolsonaro’s message, the Amazon is up for grabs.”
President Bolsonaro denies having anything to do with these fires, shifting the blame over to non-profit environmental organizations, implying that they are conspiring against him and using these fires to get him out of office.
Although some effort is being made to stop these fires, specifically the G7 summit in France raising over 22 million for emergy aid packages for Brazil, the United States seems to be siding with Bolsonaro by not signing the proposal reached.
The fires continue to rage on, causing damage to the environment, as well as to the indigenous tribes, such as the Manoki, who have inhabited the forest for centuries.
Beyond the Amazon Rainforest, other areas of South America have been affected by these fires.
Instead of a crisp fall day, Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, is enveloped in darkness with heavy ashes falling everywhere. Reports of black rain during this dark period also have occurred, most likely from the soot from the fires.
If these fires continue to rage on, the Amazon could emit carbon dioxide in large quantities, speeding up climate change.
The political and environmental climate in Brazil during this time has created the perfect storm for deforestation and devastation.