Neri dos Santos Silva, right, watches an encroaching fire in Nova Santa Helena, Brazil, on Friday, August 23. Photo by Leo Correa
Fires continue to blaze across the rainforest
For weeks now, forest fires have been burning across Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Although typically a normal occurrence in the dry season, these fires are much worse than usual. Brazil’s official numbers have now hit more than 79,500 fires this year— with more than half of those taking place in the Amazon, making this the “most active fire year in that region since 2010.” The majority of these fires are intentional, set by farmers and ranchers to clear fields and open up land for grazing. The government of Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, who promised to relax environmental protections, now faces growing criticism in Brazil and abroad as the Amazon continues to burn.
The Amazon is often called the earth’s lungs, and these fires could have disastrous effects on our fight against climate change. The world would drastically change if the rainforest were to disappear, with impacts on everything from farming practices to clean drinking water. As governments begin to ban together in an effort to put these fires out, our chance to begin the rebuild emerges.
The Amazon rainforest
The Amazon possesses the largest rainforest on Earth. Often referred to as the earth’s lungs, the rainforest creates 20% of the oxygen in our Earth’s atmosphere. It’s home to 40% of the world’s tropical forest AND holds 20% of the world’s fresh water supply. The rainforest is currently home to countless species of fauna and flora. Furthermore, the Amazon is also home to 10% of the world’s species (with 430 mammals and millions of insects) and 40,000 plant species and around 3000 varieties of edible fruits!
The Amazon rainforest is vital in slowing down global warming. While the immediate impact of the fire would mean changes in the heating of the regional atmosphere, in the long term it is expected to lead to a potential decline in natural carbon.
Though forest fires are common in the Amazon during this period, the year 2019 has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of fires and their intensity. What’s worrisome is that the burning has picked up speed at a time when there is a drastic decline in the rates of deforestation in Brazilian Amazon.
The fires & their effects
The fire in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has been burning for just over three weeks now. There have been over 79,000 fires in Brazil in 2019, with more than half of them occurring in the rainforest. This shows an 80% increase in fires during the same period in 2018. In a 48-hour period, leading up to August 22nd, there were more than 2,500 active fires in the Brazilian rainforest, the BBC reported Friday.
According to scientists, the Amazon rainforest fire could deliver a huge blow to climate control efforts. The fire will not only result in a major loss of trees and biodiversity, but also release excess pollutants like CO2, nitrogen oxides, and non-methane organic compounds into our atmosphere.
In a release on Aug. 22, Greenpeace said forest fires and climate change operate in a vicious circle. As the number of fires goes up, greenhouse gas emissions do too. This makes the planet’s overall temperature rise, the organization said. As the temperature goes up, extreme weather events like major droughts happen.
“In addition to increasing emissions, deforestation contributes directly to a change in rainfall patterns in the affected region, extending the length of the dry season, further affecting forests, biodiversity, agriculture, and human health,” Greenpeace said in the release.
What can we do?
While there’s no way to stop the fires without hopping on a plane and flying to Brazil with a fire hose, there are a few things we can do to help the rainforest. Although these may not be as satisfying as dousing flames — all of these things will have a long-lasting impact.
Plant a tree. Ruckify is currently upping our tree planting initiative tenfold! In an effort to rebuild forestation, we have partnered with Eden Reforestation Projects, planting a tree for every rental transaction. In an effort to have a stronger environmental impact in this time of need and necessity, Ruckify will plant 10 trees for every new sign up or blog comment they receive over the next month.
Other organizations you can get involved with to positively impact the environment and help save the Amazon rainforest:
- Protect an acre of rainforest through the Rainforest Action Network.
- Help buy land in the rainforest through the Rainforest Trust.
- Support the rainforest’s indigenous populations with Amazon Watch.
- Reduce your paper and wood consumption or buy rainforest safe products through the Rainforest Alliance.
- Support arts, science, and other projects that raise awareness about the Amazon through the Amazon Aid Foundation.
- Help protect animals living in the jungle with WWF.