The Amazon is Burning. How Can You Help?

The world’s lungs are burning at an alarming rate.

Thousands of fires are currently blazing in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. So much so that the smoke from these fires can be seen from space. This year, the Amazon has experienced 74,000 fires, which is up 83% from 2018. Yeah, it’s bad.

Photo from The Atlantic

So, what’s the situation?

Let me be clear: these fires are a devastating tragedy to one of the most bio diverse regions in the world. But, let me also be clear…some social media posts are exaggerating exactly what’s going on (see: shared photos from previous year’s fires in Brazil and California).

While we’re on the topic, let’s also clear up some rumors–the whole Amazon forest is not burning and it also doesn’t produce 20% of our oxygen (it’s more like 6%). BUT, this doesn’t mean that the rainforest isn’t important and this isn’t devastating! This just means we need to be more conscious about what we share on social media.

ANYWAY, there’s a bigger issue here. The Amazon is actually drying out. Back in the day, forest fires were less common because of the natural moisture and humidity in the rainforest. Fast forward to recent years with heightened climate change, and now the Amazon is on its way to turning into a dry desert. Of course, this is hugely thanks to the rise of deforestation.

Get to the point…

Photo from The Atlantic

So, deforestation is the culprit. People cut down trees, then clear the area with fires. Fires are naturally free-willed and unpredictable, so they easily travel to other parts of the rainforest that weren’t intended for burning and–BOOM–it spreads like ants on spilled honey.

It’s worth noting that NASA compared the satellite images of the Amazon rainforest and found that the current fires are on average with the data collected over the past 15 years. It’s currently dry season, so fires are more likely. HOWEVER, regardless of this data, people are cutting down five football fields of rainforest per minute, so clearly we have a massive problem.

What’s the reason for deforestation?

So, why do people deforest?

One word: agriculture.

Farmers start fires to clear stubble after a harvest, or clear forests to plant their crops. And, what exactly is growing in the Amazon? Well, 62% of this cleared rainforest is for cattle pastures. Yes, you read that right. Goodbye rainforest, hello cows.

As if that wasn’t a steep statistic, 24-25 million hectares in the Amazon are devoted to growing soy, making it the second largest producer of soybeans in the world. And, what happens to these soy beans? Well, 80% of them are turned into animal feed.

We got a double wammy here. The Amazon Rainforest is being cleared to raise cattle, and even more of the rainforest is being cleared to feed said cattle.

Do you see the problem?

Photo from The Atlantic

Here’s how you can help the Amazon

  • First, you need to lessen your meat and dairy consumption

And, I’m not talking about laying off the bacon bits on your cobb salad. I mean stop eating meat all together. But, I know some of you will say, “woah, woah, woah, but I like bacon. Bacon equals happiness and I will not lessen my quality of life.”

Ok, Brad, if bacon is soooooo important to you, then reserve it for a Sunday morning brunch occasion only. It’ll taste better if you eat it less frequently anyway. Oh, and you’ll lower your risk of heart disease, too.

If you’re seriously attached to meat, then please DO BETTER by not eating meat Monday-Friday and reserving it for a weekend treat. Also, please pay more attention to where your meat is coming from and try to buy sustainably sourced meat (even though that sounds like an oxy-moron, but I won’t ruin everything for you in one post.)

  • Second, you vegans/vegetarians aren’t off the hook. Stop eating soy.

Yeah, I’m talking about that fake meat crap. Stop eating it. Soy chicken nuggets, soy hot dogs, soy sausage patties, you name it. While soy for human consumption makes up only 10% of the soy grown from the Amazon, you’re still contributing by consuming these soy based products. Plus, soy isn’t all that great for you.

  • Elect politicians that care about the environment

Hmm…imagine if the people who made big decisions and created legislation actually cared about the environment. Now, stop imagining and actually elect someone into office who stands for the environment.

If you care about the environment, then there’s tons of other simple life adjustments that you can make to be more environmentally friendly. But, to directly help the Amazon, you need to say goodbye to that meat habit of yours.

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