The Amazon rainforest is on fire…
Though this may sound strangely ironic due to the wet and humid nature of what we all know and love about rainforests, it is a monumental concern in the global and scientific community that could cause long-lasting effects if we ignore this vital habitat’s cries for help. The Amazon has been on fire for months now, and still, not enough dramatic efforts have been made to solve the crisis or reassure the public that it is under control.
There are many reasons why the Amazon Rainforest is an essential part of the world’s ecosystem. Rainforests are vital in helping stabilize our warming global climate, acting as a carbon sink and absorbing over 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year according to scientists at National Geographic. The once-abundant stretches of forest are also some of the world’s largest and most unique sources of biodiversity, home to over 10 million species of animals, over 80,000 species of plants and approximately 500 indigenous tribes of South Americans that are sadly struggling to survive the fires. A large portion of the Amazon Rainforest is located in Brazil, but it also extends into neighboring countries like Colombia, Venezuela and Peru, just to name a few. With the rainforest stretching across such a vast region of South America, and playing a major role in sustaining a healthy global environment, it is clear that this disaster is a worldwide issue that requires international aid.
USA Today reports that the rainforest also draws in 5% of the planet’s emissions of carbon dioxide every year. This is extremely important because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that, when not absorbed, warms the earth. As the emission of greenhouse gases increases, global warming increases, which is why it is essential that the Amazon Rainforest stays standing and soaks up as much carbon dioxide as possible. Because of this, climate change has become an even more pressing issue than usual since the Amazon started burning. With less forest to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, climate change is bound to get worse. The overwhelming urgency that many people around the world are feeling to take action against the fire and climate change is exactly what we need.
If you want to know how you can make a difference, one option would be to donate to an organization that is currently fighting the fires in the Amazon, while also supporting long-term efforts to protect it. Organizations that are taking donations include the World Wide Fund on worldwildlife.org, Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch and Amazon Conservation Association. Even if you cannot donate much, it is important to know that every individual can make a change and have an impact simply by donating loose change or using their voice for local activism. You can also look for products that have FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) labels or the Rainforest Alliance green frog. Something else you can do when shopping is to give your business to companies that are environmentally friendly and reject those that are not as environmentally conscious. Ask questions about where a company receives its materials. Do they contribute to deforestation? Do their products result in plastic waste or cause harm to wildlife? If so, educate others, as often and as much as you possibly can! If you ever hear someone mention the rainforest or talk about environmental conservation (or catch some incorrect assumptions being thrown around), don’t hesitate to give a quick, clarifying fact or further discuss an issue with someone, if you feel comfortable doing so. Many people are growing more and more aware of conservation, but it is always a wonderful thing to be on the lookout for opportunities to show that you’re a proud advocate for your local and global environment.
By Katelyn Wiszowaty, Staff Writer, and Emma Fry, News Editor