This week a couple of tweets and Instagrams have gone viral, spreading the news of a raging fire in the Amazon rainforest for the past two weeks.
The tweets went viral because mainstream news outlets had not been reporting on it and many people were shocked to find out.
Just a reminder that the amazon rainforest has been ON FIRE. For 3 weeks with the media just barely covering it now . Think of all the wildlife and their homes that are being destroyed during this tragedy. #PrayForAmazonía pic.twitter.com/0hcYLz8HPa
— .0 (@IgTears) August 21, 2019
Just a little alert to the world: the sky randomly turned dark today in São Paulo, and meteorologists believe it’s smoke from the fires burning *thousands* of kilometers away, in Rondônia or Paraguay. Imagine how much has to be burning to create that much smoke(!). SOS pic.twitter.com/P1DrCzQO6x
— Shannon Sims (@shannongsims) August 20, 2019
View this post on Instagram
#Regram #RG @IamNickRose: Terrifying to think that the Amazon is the largest rain forest on the planet, creating 20% of the earth’s oxygen, basically the lungs of the world, has been on fire and burning for the last 16 days running, with literally NO media coverage whatsoever! Why?
When Notre Dame was burning the world stopped. Billionaires and politicians emptied their pockets to help rebuild. Meanwhile the amazon has been burning for three weeks. The difference is, we don't get to build a new earth. When it's gone, it's gone. #PrayforAmazonas pic.twitter.com/o3GC59PHLu
— Francis Maxwell (@francismmaxwell) August 21, 2019
How did the fire's start?
During dry season in Brazil, wildfires often start in the rainforest.
The difference this time is the fires have been worse than normal and some of them may have questionable origins.
The INPE says that it has caught 72,000 fires this year already and more than 9,500 in the past week, which is extremely abnormal.
In 2018, it registered fewer than 40,000 fires, so 2019 is already much worse before the year is even over.
Express alleges that some of the fires have been “deliberately” started to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching.
Brazil's President is Blaming NGOs
Jair Bolsonaro is a controversial president to begin with, especially when it comes to environmental regulations, but he took it to another level Wednesday by saying that non-governmental organizations could be burning the rainforest on purpose to shame the government after Jair cut their funding.
It’s one hell of a conspiracy theory that simultaneously has little to do with the criticized environmental policies that Bolsonaro implemented, which is part of why it has people so angry.
According to CNN, “federal interference” in Brazil is making it easier for people to exploit the rainforest, and Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency’s operations have gone down since Bolsonaro was sworn in.
Here's how you can help the rainforest
There are plenty of options, so check them out.
- Protect an acre of rainforest through the Rainforest Action Network.
- Focus on the animals of the rainforest specifically by donating or volunteering with the WWF.
- Sign a petition to encourage governmental action, if that’s your thing. Here’s a Greenpeace one.
- Fast Company reports that reducing your beef consumption can also help, because rainforest beef reportedly goes into fast-food hamburgers and processed beef products.
- 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.
- Reduce your beef consumption. Rainforest beef is typically found in fast-food hamburgers or processed beef products.
- If you’re in a position to help protect the rainforest on a macroscale, Foreign Policy argues that one of the most powerful tools for protecting the region is to work with businesses rather than against them. This is particularly effective in the beef industry, because as Foreign Policy notes, domestic meat producers in Brazil work with international companies that “are committed to zero-carbon standards, in principle” and are more susceptible to public outcry than Bolsonaro. They suggest that trade, distribution, and financing deals that are dependent on protecting the rainforest and sustainability can be a boon to the planet and to Brazilians who depend on the rainforest for their livelihoods.