What is happening in the Amazon Rainforest
Why is the Amazon Rainforest on fire? The fires that are currently raging in the Amazon Rainforest are largely man made and happen every year as smallholders burn crop stubble after the harvest and farmers clear land for more crops.
Although this happens every year it is much worse this year. In the worst-affected Brazilian state of Amazonas, the peak day this month was 700% higher than the average for the same date over the past 15 years.
Not only are the fires destroying acres of rainforest and endangering native species of animals in the area the smoke is also pumping large levels of carbon into the World’s atmosphere.
The biodiversity of the tropical rainforest is so immense that less than 1 percent of its millions of species have been studied by scientists for their active constituents and their possible uses. When an acre of topical rainforest is lost, the impact on the number of plant and animal species lost and their possible uses is staggering. Scientists estimate that we are losing more than 137 species of plants and animals every single day because of rainforest deforestation.
The Lungs of our Planet are Burning
You’ve probably heard the phrase “The Lungs of Our Planet Are Burning” in relation to the fires in the Amazon Rainforest.
But what does this mean? This refers to the fact that the trees in the Rainforest produce oxygen – “Carbon dioxide in, Oxygen out”.
It has been reported that the Amazon Rainforest produces 20% of the World’s oxygen. However, it is unclear where this statement originated, and in fact it isn’t entirely accurate.
The Amazon Rainforest does produce Oxygen and the true figure is likely to be no more than 6%, according to climate scientists such as Michael Mann and Jonathan Foley.
However, the impact the Amazon Rainforest has on Carbon is immense, here are some facts:
- The world’s forests store 638 gigatonnes of CO2
- Deforestation accounts for more CO2 than the entire USA – a staggering six billion tonnes each year
- In the next 24 hours deforestation will release as much CO2 into the atmosphere as eight million people flying from London to New York
- One tropical tree can store up to 30 tonnes of CO2. That’s around three times the amount one person emits in a year
- Rainforests are the world’s single biggest “carbon sink”, holding as much as 50% of the Earth’s carbon
- Tropical Forests can absorb 4.8 billion tonnes of CO2 annually, up to 10% of annual man-made GHG emissions
- When an acre of rainforest is burnt, this results in 260 tonnes of CO2 emissions – equivalent to what 10,000 people would emit in a day
- Saving one acre of rainforests stores the amount of CO2 emitted by driving a car 800,000 miles – around the world 32 times
- Deforestation produces 17% of all man-caused greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transport sector
- Healthy rainforests absorb up to 10% of man’s carbon emissions each year
It is therefore extremely important that we safeguard the Amazon Rainforest. Scientists say the Amazon is approaching a tipping point, after which it will irreversibly degrade into a dry savannah. At a time when the world needs billions more trees to absorb carbon and stabilise the climate, the planet is losing its biggest Rainforest.
What Can You Do To Help The Amazon Rainforest?
1. Donate to organizations that can help.
- Amazon Watch – since 1996, Amazon Watch has worked with indigenous communities to protect their rights, as well as the rainforest
- Rainforest Alliance – From fighting deforestation and climate change to building economic opportunities and better working conditions for rural people, the Rainforest Alliance is working to solve urgent environmental and social challenges.
- Rainforest Action Network – Since 1993, RAN’s Protect-an-Acre program (PAA) has distributed more than one million dollars in grants to more than 150 frontline communities, Indigenous-led organizations, and allies, helping their efforts to secure protection for millions of acres of traditional territory in forests around the world.
- World Wildlife Fund – “These fires are destroying ecosystems, displacing wildlife, and jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions,” senior vice president Kerry Cesareo
2. Buy products that help protect against deforestation
Look for products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and/or the Rainforest Alliance (RA).
- FSC-certified products “come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits,”
- RA-certified products “the little green frog is a symbol of environmental, social, and economic sustainability and can be found on farm and forest products around the world”
Palm Oil – avoid products with Palm Oil as it is a huge contributor to deforestation. Around 300 football fields of forests are cleared every hour to create palm plantations.
Meat and Dairy – If you eat meat buy local grass fed beef and look for Dairy products from grass fed cows. Growing global demand for meat and dairy products has contributed to the doubling of soybean production in the last 20 years. Soy is primarily used to feed pork, poultry, and dairy cows
Wood & Paper – be mindful when purchasing wood and paper. Buy recycled paper products.
3. Change Your Search Engine
Consider switching your search end to Ecosia they plant trees when you search, it costs about 56 web searches to fund one tree
It’s sad to see the impact these fires are having on the Amazon. But, if everyone did one thing to help it’s a step in the right direction. Just sharing relevant posts and tweets on social media to highlight the issue is better than doing nothing.
I hope this has given you some inspiration to do one thing.
You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make
— Jane Goodall