Fire season has officially begun for the Amazon Rainforest. This is said to typically occur from July to September because of the dry season, and usually stops by November. However, nothing seems ordinary about the forest fire this year, and the rate that the forest is burning is causing worldwide alarm.
According to the National Institute for Space Research, the ongoing fire is the most destructive one recorded since 2013. They've detected a total of 72,843 fires this year and are expecting an 83% increase from 2018's records.
The smoke from the fire is being felt in the city as well, with photos of a smoke-covered sky in São Paulo resurfacing online. It's said the smoke can be seen in place as far as 1,700 miles.
NASA also shared evidence of the widespread fire taken from space. The image shows smoke and fires in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Mato Grosso, and Rondônia. To give you an idea of how much of the forest is burning, the INPE says that every minute, an area as big as one and a half soccer fields are being destroyed.
The ongoing fires are causing alarm because the Amazon Rainforest is an integral part of the fight against climate change. It's dubbed as the Earth's lungs as it produces 20% of the oxygen in the planet's atmosphere. Being the largest rainforest we have, it also houses the most diverse population of flora and fauna in the world.
An article by this World Wildlife Fund suggests that if this kind of damage continues, the Amazon will experience rising temperatures and a decrease in rainfall by 2050. A drier environment like this could then turn 30 to 60% of the rainforest into a dry savanna. Not only will it become inhabitable for most of its current species, it might begin emitting carbon and contribute to climate change instead of preventing it.
The exact cause of the fire surges have yet to be confirmed, but many are alleging that it was caused by illegal deforestation. This is now being connected to Brazil's current president Jair Bolsonaro, who recently took office and has allegedly promised to prioritize the Amazon's economic potential in farming and mining over deforestation. The president then counters the accusations by claiming that organizations are deliberately setting fire to the Amazon to embarrass the government.
On Twitter, users are posting the hashtag #PrayforAmazonas to raise awareness for the fires and spark hope that the situation will soon improve.
If you're wondering how to help with the Amazon rainforest fires, here are a few ways to consider:
1. Post about it on your social media.
Whether you have a hundred followers or a hundred thousand, sharing news and photos about what's happening will help everyone in your circle (and beyond) become more informed about the situation.
2. Donate if you can.
Organizations like Amazon Watch, Amazon Conservation Team, Amazon Aid, the Rainforest Action Network, and the World Wide Fund all work towards preserving the Amazon and supporting the communities affected by the fire. They are currently accepting emergency donations to directly help with the situation.
3. Sign Greenpeace's petition to investigate the fires.
This petition was created to pressure the Brazilian government into taking action not only in saving the rainforest but in protecting the lands of indigenous communities in Brazil. Sign your name here.
4. Take steps into living more sustainably.
Paper, wood, and meat from cattle are all products that contribute to deforestation. Reducing your consumption of these products and adopting more ways to reduce your carbon footprint can have a small yet significant impact in the fight against climate change.