Writer: Yerin Kim
Visual: Anushka Vijay
Editor: Norbu Dorji
The Amazon rainforest is known for its vivid beauty, and known for being the natural habitat for thousands of species, however, it’s importance goes beyond this. The Amazon rainforest plays a critical role in stabilizing the climate with large water cycles. The aspects of the cycles include the evaporation from the ocean and land, then transports the water vapor by the atmosphere, precipitates onto the ocean and land surfaces. It helps regulate regional rainfall and prevent both floods and droughts. This rainforest is clearly a vital aid to minimize the impacts of manmade air pollution; however, it is on fire, burning dangerously fast for the past month. Awareness was only raised on the graveness of this issue when the skies of Brazil were draped in thick layers of smoke. I believe that this issue is truly one of the most critical events this year and that it deserves far more attention than it is currently getting.
Unlike the United States and Canada, where wildfires are usually created due to spontaneous lightning strikes, Amazon wildfires are initially a manmade disaster. Largely in part due to cattle ranchers that care little about environmental degradation, as well as farmers that traditionally utilize the “slash and burn” agricultural method to clear land with ease. As the farmers wait for the dry season to burn the areas with more convenience, the extremely parched atmosphere leads to the spreads of the fires out of control.
What really sparked anger and protests in social media, and even political disputes was the Brazilian government. More specifically, Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazillian president, who is renowned for his ignorance of the environmental crisis that has affected the world globally. Even before the Amazon fire, Bolsonaro’s administration approved of 125 harmful pesticides after being in power for just about 100 days. People were outraged when Bolsonaro unreasonably denied the 20$ million aid package offered to be sent from the G7 leaders (Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy, France, UK, USA) and stated that “the suggestion of the French president that Amazonian issues be discussed in the G7 without countries in the region participating is reminiscent of a colonial mindset inappropriate in the 21st century”. Essentially, Bolsnaro retorted that the G7 should mind their own business as if he has been able to control the fires and save the Amazon with his own power. This incited many conflicts between the international community and the issues strayed away from the original focus of saving the Amazon. Ultimately, he did come to his senses and decided to reduce his aggression and accept foreign aid to battle the wildfires.
Logically, any feud that Bolsnaro has with the French government should be nullified when such a vital issue such as the degradation of the environment that sustains us is waiting to be solved. The Amazon rainforest is a very important part of our ecosystem, and more than 20% has already been destroyed due to human activities. Professionalism is necessary when a catastrophe breaks out after irresponsible and ignorant actions from the government. World leaders should set aside differences, and work together to protect the ecosystems in our world, especially one as significant as the Amazon.
Regan, Helen, and Jessie Yeung. “Bolsonaro to Deploy Troops to Fight Amazon Rainforest Fires.” CNN, Cable News Network, 24 Aug. 2019, edition.cnn.com/2019/08/23/americas/amazon-fires-macron-g7-intl-hnk/index.html.