The Amazon rainforest is burning. Be afraid.

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Amazon burning much?

This time of year, Brazilian farmers typically burn some of the Amazon rainforest, mostly to clear land for their grazing animals, such as cows. Right now, Brazil has 80% more fires blazing than at this time last year, with half of the fires in the Amazon rainforest. Brazilian deforestation generally is up 88% on last year. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro claimed that environmental groups were starting the fires to make him look bad, but has since backtracked.

20% of our oxygen

The Amazon rainforest is considered the lungs of our planet, generating around 20% of the total oxygen pumped out by plants during photosynthesis. When plants produce oxygen, they also absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), the key cause of global warming and the climate crisis that we now face.

The risk of a cascade effect

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We are in real danger. The Amazon rainforest fires mean that our planet’s ability to produce oxygen, and absorb CO2, is in danger. The fires generate more CO2 to add to the dangerous levels already in the atmosphere, so the ideal oxygen/CO2 ratio for sustaining life is compromised. When more cows are produced to graze upon the cleared forest land, they in turn produce more CO2 and greenhouse gases. The Amazon fires could truly cause a cascade effect, causing an irreversible slide into the dystopian nightmare of a planet that cannot sustain life.

What we can do

The UN should take the lead in protecting the world environment and stopping the climate crisis. If anything positive can come from the burning of the Amazon rainforest, it’s that we’ve woken up, as a species, to the reality that we all share the same small space. Nationalism prevents us from dealing effectively with global problems. The UN has shown an ability to solve some pretty enormous problems, from disease pandemics to refugee crises.

Generally, encouraging our national governments to support the UN Global Goals, is a way forward. Specifically, let’s give the UN a mandate to act forcefully, above national interests, in tackling climate change and the destruction of the environment. We are living through an existential crisis. Let’s continue waking up.


Learn more

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The UN Global Goals.

Live satellite views of smoke from the Amazon Rainforest. From an EU activity, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. CAMS provides consistent and quality-controlled information related to air pollution and health, solar energy, greenhouse gases and climate forcing, everywhere in the world.

This CBS News report has useful links so that we can take action on the Amazon rainforest fires, from anywhere in the world: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/help-the-amazon-what-you-can-do-to-help-as-amazon-rainforest-fire-continues-to-burn-through-brazil/

The importance of plants in fighting climate change: https://www.readathriller.com/thriller/biological-machinery-that-can-stop-climate-change-already-exists-its-called-plants/

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PS: The featured image for this post is a healthy chunk of rainforest. You don’t need to see a picture of a fire to know there’s a problem, right?

Now you tell us!