The Amazon Fire

With the Amazon rainforest still burning, many people are concerned about the effects of the fire and smoke and controversies surrounding the issue.

The+Amazon+Fire

For nine months, the Amazon rainforest has been burning. While the dry season makes the forest fire-prone, this year has been significantly different. There has been an 80% increase in fires compared to last year, mostly due to human deforestation. 

Why should you care? The Amazon rainforest produces 20% of the earth’s oxygen and houses numerous species of animal and plant life. Because of the fires, the ecosystem of the forest has been altered. For example, with the large trees burning, the usually dark forest is lightened because sunlight can reach the ground, causing animals who use the darkness as camouflage or who use the trees as homes to go extinct. Many native amphibians, marsupials, and animals not yet discovered could go extinct. 

Some people also believe that the Amazon is part of the solution to global warming. The forest helps trap carbon dioxide and other warming greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, which helps regulate the global temperature. 

“Currently, the world is emitting around 40 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. The Amazon absorbs 2 billion tons of CO2 per year (or 5% of annual emissions), making it a vital part of preventing climate change,” reported Anna Jean Kaiser, writer for AP News.

Due to the smoke billowing from the fires, the people of the Amazona (the states around the Amazon) have declared a state of emergency. 

The smoke turned the sky in Sao Paolo, Brazil black from the burning forest, and the smoke reportedly traveled 2,000 miles away.

Plus, the smoke can cause serious health damage. 

“When you breathe in smoke you’re inhaling all sorts of harmful smoke particles, chemicals and gases, which can cause damage to the respiratory tract and cut off your supply of oxygen,” Dr. Diana Gall from Doctor4U told Daily Express. “Conditions such as COPD, asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis can be made worse with smoke inhalation.” (qtd. MSN.com)

Brazilian federal prosecutors are opening investigations into the deforestation issues and spread of fires. 

“They will work to determine whether there has been reduced monitoring and enforcement of environmental protections,” said Amalie Henden, a reporter for Express.

Although the dry season is favorable for fires, humans are the initial cause.

The dry season creates the favourable conditions for the use and spread of the fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, whether deliberately or by accident.”

— Alberto Setzer

“The dry season creates the favourable conditions for the use and spread of the fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, whether deliberately or by accident,” Alberto Setzer, a researcher for Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, told Reuters. (qtd. Express).

Many people also blame the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. His presidential campaign advocated opening the Amazon for cattle ranching and industry building, which was very popular among industrials and ranchers. Bolsonaro has also been under attack due to his inaction to stop the fires. 

 On Tuesday, August 27, 2019, President Bolsonaro rejected $22-27M in aid from G7 countries, (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States) which have some of the most advanced economies in the world. This decision was due to tension with the French president Emmanuel Macron, specifically over comments about discussing the Amazon fire at the G7 summit, a conference that meets annually to discuss issues such as “global economic governance, international security, and energy policy” but has no real legal or political authority (qtd. CFR.org).

“The French President’s suggestion that Amazonian issues be discussed at the G7 without the participation of the countries of the region evokes a misplaced colonialist mindset in the 21st century,” said Bolsonaro.

However, President Bolsonaro accepted $12M of British aid a little while after the G7 meeting.