The Amazon Fires and Why we should stop them

The Amazon Fires and Why we should stop them

Garrett V., Photojournalist

Ever since early January, there have been lots of fires occurring in the Amazon Rainforest, and it’s no accident. The fires are being started to clear land, despite the fact it’s illegal to do so. 

The fires have been occurring in Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, and primarily Brazil, and they’ve burned over 2.2 million acres, and this is a major problem for the Amazon Rainforest due to several reasons. For one, Its destroying the protected ecosystem that is the Amazon, destroying thousands of little environments for the animals that live there, and the environment isn’t adapted to the fires since there haven’t been any that have occurred often enough to force it to adapt. 

Another problem is that the amazon is “..the world’s largest carbon-dioxide sink and plays a significant role in climate change.” So if the entire forest burns down, the consequences will be dire. The rate of climate change would increase, leading to more polar ice caps melting, causing an environmental catastrophe, or at least in theory. 

The strange thing is that the Brazilian government isn’t doing anything about it, despite the fact that they outlawed the burning of the forest. Although the people starting the fires know for a fact that what they’re doing is illegal, the mild punishments and enforcement lead to them ignoring the law and use slash and burn tactics to push back the forest and make space for development. 

This problem is not a new one, and it’s been going on since the 1970’s. The main reason why it got to this degree was that in 2014, Brazil fell into an economic crisis. The Brazilian government decided to make space for beef and soy growing and exporting to other countries. This helped the crisis, but sacrificed some space for the rainforest’s plants and animals. That led to some people saying “Hey, if that helped the economy, let’s do more of it!” which turned into a downward spiral. An 80% jump in the amount of fires overall from last year is leading to the spike pit that is the collapse of the environment, which in basic terms, is about the worst outcome for all living creatures on the planet due to the mass carbon-dioxide disposal job the forest has. It’s like wanting a bonfire in antarctica because you’re cold, so you burn down the research facility there. Sure, it helps for the moment, but you’ve doomed yourself and everybody else there to a harsh death. But those statements are at the center for a lot of debate, and if the Amazon Rainforest really produces 20% of earth’s oxygen supply, then losing it would mean extinction, or if those claims are all false for the sake of being difficult.

There has been attempts to stop the fires by international governments, like how at the G7 summit, Chilean president Sebastian Pinera had negotiations with other countries to authorize in total US$22 million in emergency funding for the effort in stopping the fires. The Brazilian government is seeming to be mixed on this decision, but only time will tell if they accept the funding.

The main reason why you should care shouldn’t be politics, financial gain, or other reasons. The main takeaway is that a (maybe) crucial part of the world is burning down for things that (probably) won’t matter in the long run.