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The Lungs of the Earth are Burning

By: Solmaz Salehi

The Amazon rainforest, also known as the lungs of the earth, is burning with a speed that has never been seen before and many believe that it is not due to a natural cause.

According to The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) the specific cause and the time the fires started is unknown, however, activists blame the current anti-environment Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. Not only as he allowed these fires, he has also encouraged activities such as tree-cutting since he gained power in January.

The current fires that are happening in the Amazon are not wildfires. It is the product of farmers seeking to deforest the land in order to have more agriculturing space. In recent years, agriculture in Brazil has grown and become one of the major factors in their economy. The high demands of soybeans has led farmers to deforestation. According to Nigel Sizer, a tropical forest ecologist and chief program officer with the Rainforest Alliance "[agriculture in forest eras] is responsible for 80% to 90% of the loss of tropical forests around the world". The farmers start by cutting the trees in the rain season and burning them in the dry season, which is around July to October. This is an effective and fast method of deforestation.

Stated in Times magazine, Jair Bolsonaro’s oldest son, Flávio Bolsonaro, a senator, has introduced a bill that would eliminate a requirement that rural properties in the Amazon maintain 80% of their native vegetation.

Amazon is the biggest rainforest in the world, nearly the size of the United States and considering that it produces 20% of the world's oxygen, these fires are undoubtedly destroying this planet even faster than before. The INPE reported an 84 percent increase on the fires from the same time last year. It is also the home to more species than anywhere else on the planet.

There are several ways to help the Amazon. A donation can be made through Rainforest Trust, which allows you to donate to a specific project. Rainforest Alliance says that 100% of the donations go to stopping the deforestation in Brazil. They try to make the farms more productive so that the farmers don't feel the need to procure more land.

Products that have the “Rainforest Alliance Certified™" seal” are products such as coffee, tea and chocolate that come from sustainable farms. It is important to keep an eye out for products with a little green frog logo, which is the symbol of environmental, social and economical sustainability.

According to Laura Krochenski, an executive member of the Green Earth Club, “Educating yourself is the best thing to do. Educate yourself on what you should be using. Buy more locally. Voice your opinions. Bring awareness to your community.”

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that more than a quarter of the Amazon will be without trees by 2030 if the current rate of deforestation continues. In the end, if the fires are man-made, shouldn't they also be stopped by humans?


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