The Amazon rainforest, considered “the lungs of the world,” is on fire—and everyone around the globe should care.
According to reports, across the 2.1 million square miles that make up the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and other South American countries, over 77,000 fires have been recorded this year, with over 10,000 in roughly the past week.
Critics have said illegal forest clearing is to blame, as fires are deliberately started to open land for farming. Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro is being blamed because he has eased up on environmental laws to boost economic expansion in the rainforest. Thousands of acres are used for cattle pastures.
Experts believe more than one and a half football fields are burning per minute. The skies over Sao Paolo, Brazil, have gone black because of smoke that can be seen from outer space.
The rainforest is considered the lungs of the world because it produces about 20 percent of Earth’s oxygen and helps slow global warming.
However, because of the fires, lost trees will no longer be able to absorb carbon dioxide, and the forest is now sending millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day, contributing to climate change. Scientists fear the Amazon could transform into a dry savanna, suffering irreversible damage.
Celebrities can be controversial when they speak up on global issues, but actor Leonardo DiCaprio deserves credit for helping to form Earth Alliance, an environmental organization that is donating $5 million to save the rainforest.
Other notable charities include the Amazon Conservation Association, Amazon Conservation Team, Amazon Watch, Rainforest Foundation U.S., Rainforest Trust and Rainforest Action Network.
The fires should even make climate-change deniers take notice, as people living in the rainforest, including 400 indigenous groups, are being uprooted, and if all lives matter, theirs do, too.
Some have said that the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral fire in April earned far more attention than the Amazon blazes have, even though the Amazon was thrust into the public spotlight toward the end of August.
Donating to rebuild the cathedral is a noble act, but the Amazon’s well-being directly affects all humans. It needs to be addressed by global leaders, and they need to hold each other accountable in caring for our planet’s lungs.