With the biggest rainforest in the entire world up in flames, there should be more people up in arms. Beyond being the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon serves as one of the most important reservoir for carbon left on Earth. You would think that the threat of having one of Earth’s most important assets burnt to the ground would have more heads turned. However, the world often falls silent, and the tragedy falls on deaf ears.
According to Alice Cuddy and Bruno Boelpaep of BBC, just ten days after the Notre Dame fire, donors had pledged almost $1,000,000,000 towards the restoration of the historic building. It’s great to see donors, billionaires and ordinary people alike, coming together to raise money for a cause but, it is disheartening to know that the same is not being done to save the rainforest.
To be fair, the Notre Dame holds a very special place in the hearts of people all around the world. Although it is a famous Catholic cathedral, it holds many relics that are seen as sacred to those of many different kinds of faiths. Beyond religious ties to the structure, it was a majestic building that many praise for its architectural beauty. Lastly, the timing of the cathedral being up in flames just days before Easter caused people to feel extremely distraught over the event. Why don’t people feel the same way about the Amazon rainforest?
The Amazon fires have been burning for longer than people even know. These fires are causing further deforestation – intentionally. According to Alejandra Borunda of National Geographic, last week, “about 7,000 square miles of the forest were in flames, an area just smaller than the size of New Jersey,”. Sadly, most of these fires are caused by humans.
In Brazil, one of the main sources of income is from farming and cattle. It is common for Farmers and Ranchers to let fallen trees dry out and set them on fire to expand their property. In combination with major El Nino droughts, fires have been common and widespread.
Fires in the Amazon are common. Right now according to Borunda, there are about 76,000 fires burning in the Brazilian Amazon. “This is an increase of over 80 percent over the same time period last year,” reported Banda.
Being the biggest rainforest in the entire world, the Amazon needs to be protected. It is hard to blame farmers for setting it on fire in order to get more land because they’re just looking out for their own livelihood. If there were more job opportunities available in Brazil and room for growth beyond agriculture, I think it would be easier to put the blame on the farmers and ranchers.
According to Borunda, the newly elected Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has been promoting agricultural activity in the Amazon. He hopes for increased agriculture in the Amazon to pave the way for more development in that region.
As students, we don’t have large amounts of money to donate, but we can raise awareness to people who do. Although it is amazing that the Notre Dame fire caused millions of dollars to be raised, the Notre Dame does nothing for the liveliness of the Earth. The Amazon rainforest on the other hand provides clean air for the world and is home to endangered animals and indigenous people. It would be great to get even half the amount of donations that the Notre Dame was receiving. Keeping this vibrant forest protected should be a major concern for world leaders and humans everywhere.
It is our responsibility as inhabitants of this Earth to try and protect it as much as possible. The deforestation of the Amazon is a problem that deserves more attention. The Brazilian government has no incentive to take on this problem; it would cost an extensive amount of money. Not to mention, more land for agriculture will boost their country economically.
This responsibility then falls into the hands of world leaders, the United Nations and people around the world to demand the protection of this forest.
As students theres not much we can do. Protesting or sharing information via social media often doesn’t help much. One reason for the deforestation is to create more land for cattle ranchers. In America, we are one of the top consumers of beef. If everyone did as little as refuse to eat beef for two days out of the week, demand would decrease drastically.
Even if you don’t have the money to donate to causes you feel strongly about, find out other ways to help.
We all need to eat. In this particular situation, changing your eating habits can make an impact on the situation. Stop retweeting and sharing and start doing. At the end of the day, any act big or small helps.