The Amazon Rainforest, the most biologically diverse area in the world, has been burning for over three weeks. The three-million square miles of tropical forest that produces from 6-20% of the world’s oxygen (National Geographic) has been in danger for almost a month. These fires started burning over a month ago, and are just making headlines at least three weeks after they began. It is imperative that people know about this because the climate affects from it could determine the future of human existence.
According to Business Insider, “In the Amazon, most fires were started by farmers and loggers seeking to use land for industrial or agricultural purposes. But once blazes start, hot temperatures and dry conditions because of climate change enable the flames to spread farther and faster.” There are natural fires that are started, but there are also controlled fires that are necessary to the ecosystem of the rainforest. The fires that started the intense spread were not all controlled. These unnatural and uncontrolled fires are much more dangerous and could potentially threaten the Earth’s stability.
“The Amazon Rainforest is home to millions of indigenous people as well as plants and is considered to be one of the most important ecosystems in the world,” Lindsay Engelbert, senior and president of Sustainability Club, said. “However, the increasing amount of fires that are occurring there are producing more carbon than absorbing it. This means that it can greatly increase the rate of global climate change.”
“Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale,” according to the United Nations. The Amazon Rainforest is one of the ways it could have been combatted to an extent with its intense carbon intake. But with the destruction of this ecosystem, could come the destruction of our planet.
According to The Harvard Gazette, Brian Farrell, Harvard biologist said,“If fire removes the plant life responsible for moving water up into the clouds, the land will dry and rainforests will be replaced by grasslands able to withstand the newly arid conditions, which can persist for thousands of years.” He said, “The economic and ecological consequences for the cities that today depend on these sources of atmospheric water, as well as the natural ecosystems and indigenous peoples they support, will be devastating.”
The damage that has already been done is irreversible and Farrell said, “The very fact that we could reach the tipping point this year should be enough to focus world attention on this crisis, just as if an asteroid headed toward Earth. Where it lands is not the concern only of the country impacted, but everyone on the planet.”
This is not just another news headline that people are going to see. This issue is something that will affect the livelihood of humanity. The most important thing that you as an individual can do is educate yourself. Educate yourself on the climate of everyday actions and make it a point to make small changes. Every action that is taken in favor of preserving the climate, can help keep our planet habitable.
Jennah Klein, Photography Editor
An aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest shows the intense, lush, and intense makeup of the landscape and the river that runs through it. Photo Courtesy of Heather Berry