The Amazon Burns On…

Gail Harper
abharper@lc.edu

 

By now, everyone knows that the Amazon rainforest has been on fire for around two months. The anomaly has caused controversy, terror, and great sadness to people across the world. But the answer to solving this tragedy is not turning a blind eye, it’s being informed and acting upon that knowledge.

First of all, it’s important to note that fires in the Amazon are annual. However, the number of fires reported this year are almost 85 percent higher than they were in 2018. The Amazon’s dry season peaks in late September, and there still haven’t been enough efforts made to solve this problem, so it might even worsen over time—we’ll have to see.

The fires proliferate due to the area’s dry season. And since the dry season lasts until November, we will most likely see these man-made fires continue to spread and intensify. However, the aftermath is what really makes this whole situation worse. 

A cutback in environmental diversity could result in even more catastrophic results. Scott Moss, a biology teacher here at LC, commented on the damaging effects of the fires by saying “The real tragedy, from a conservation standpoint, is that given the high diversity of Tropical Rainforest systems and the small range of species in them we could be witnessing, silently, the extinction of hundreds of species both known and unknown.”

While some fires are natural in the Amazon, “the scale of what we’re now witnessing is in large part due to intentional destruction,” said Nate Keener, the director of sustainability on campus.

“…An authoritarian managed to seize power in Brazil after jailing his chief political rival on bogus charges. In short order, Jair Bolsonaro has encouraged his pals in mining, ranching, and other industry to clear the forest for production by any means necessary.” Keener added.

The fires burn all the way in Brazil, so why should we in Godfrey be concerned? Keener says, “…higher temperatures, worse floods, and generally increased incidence of extreme weather events.”Moss adds, …”there is a point at which loss of diversity leads directly to loss of structure and function…” So there is reason to be bothered.

A once lush, lavish forest ripe with attractive greenery is now dry, brown, and barren, save for the skeletons of trees. The comparison is disquieting. Smoke lingers over cities, clouding the sky in an unnatural way. The fires burn on, unforgiving.

What can you do to help? By lessening your carbon footprint, recycling, and using sustainable products, effects of climate change and these horrible fires could be lessened. There are alternatives to gas-guzzling cars, plastic toothbrushes, and high water consumption appliances. Keener recommends cutting beef out of our lives, as “much of the current forest clearing is for cattle production.”

We can save the planet. You’ve heard it a thousand times, but it’s worth reiterating. Time is running out. It’s time for all of us to take responsibility for our actions and change what we can before it is irreversibly too late.

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