The Earth is on Fire

And you can do something about it.

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(c)NEIL PALMER PHOTOGRAPHY

    The Amazon rainforest forest fire has been sparking attention and action from both world leaders and social media. The fires began around the beginning of August, but the story’s social media presence took several days to weeks to build up. The Amazon helps produce oxygen and cool the atmosphere, slowing the effects of climate change. The loss of large parts of the amazon would be extremely harmful to the whole world through the loss of biodiversity and the Amazon’s function as a cooling system. The destruction is immense, affecting ecosystems and indigenous communities, and filling the sky over Brazilian cities with ash. The destructive method of slash and burn farming, often to raise cattle, is commonly blamed as well as the Brazilian government’s environmental policies. Another factor is climate change resulting in increased droughts, enabling the fires to spread easier.

 

     Several wealthy countries have contributed in an offer to give Brazil a total of $22 million dollars. The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro decided to refuse the money until the president of France apologized for calling him a liar. France and Ireland both threatened to block trade with Brazil, because Brazil is not respecting the agreement to tackle environmental destruction and climate change. As of Wednesday, Aug. 28, the aid has been accepted. But the question is, how will they use it? Before accepting the money, Bolsonaro had originally suggested they use it to plant more trees in Europe. 

     Students had varying opinions about the events, and the attention they were given by the media and their classmates. Many people shared the story and their opinions on social media, while others criticized them, arguing that sharing has no effect or is simply annoying. Does the amazon controversy highlight a bigger social issue for our generation? This seems to be a common pattern, people sharing a story and then thinking their work is done. On the surface, this is a simple way to express our opinion and perhaps make ourselves feel like by talking about something, or simply posting a headline on our instagram story, we’ve made an impact. The importance of talking about an issue cannot be stressed enough, but this is not all we can do. Luckily, this has also highlighted a discussion about how our choices impact the world. 

 

     There are many impactful ways we can affect the Amazon fire and deforestation on a global level. While the immediate future of the Amazon may rely on Brazil’s and international leaders, this is not a temporary issue. So, what can we do to help? One thing people can do is get involved in groups dedicated to helping the Amazon such as Amazon Watch and WWF. Avoid eating beef and using products containing palm oil. A good tip is to buy products certified by the Rainforest Alliance, an organization that works with local communities to create sustainable practices. The Amazon and other forests will continue to be burned by corrupt companies and governments long after the social media attention has died down. This is an issue that affects us all and we can help change it.

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