In early August 2019, the Brazilian state of the Amazonas declared a state of emergency. The most biodiverse area in the world and one of human’s most precious resources, the Amazon rainforest has been burning at astronomical rates.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the Amazon spans 8 regions in South America, and its hundreds of billions of trees work to absorb excess carbon dioxide and produce approximately 6% of the planet’s oxygen. The moisture produced by the Amazon’s plants even influence the global climate and ocean currents. Humans, plants, and animals alike rely on this vast ecosystem. Humans use the area for agriculture, natural resources, clothing, and even medicines. Many indigenous communities call this the rainforest home, as does every 1 in 10 known wildlife species.
There were about 77,000 fires ravaging the Amazon as of September 1, 2019. Over half of these began in the past month. Unfortunately, the majority of these fires have been started by humans for economic gain. Large portions of the rainforest are being burned to clear space for mining, logging, and agriculture.
The news about the Amazon has been devastating, overwhelming, and has left many feeling hopeless. Sources argue that the solution lies in political change. While this is true, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing individuals can do to help out during this global crisis. I have compiled a list of actions you can take from various sources including, The Cut, Discovery, and Cnet.
- Amazon Watch is a non-profit organization that “partner[s] with indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate. accountability, and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems”.
- The Rainforest Action Network “preserves forests, protects the climate and upholds human rights by challenging corporate power and systemic injustice through frontline partnerships and strategic campaigns.”
- The Rainforest Trust purchases and protects land in tropical forests.
- The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit that encourages “responsible business”.
- The World Wildlife Fund is an international non-profit that is creating an emergency fund for the Amazon.
- Eat less beef. You do not have to give up hamburgers entirely but making a conscious effort to cut back will reduce land cleared for agriculture and limit greenhouse gas emissions.
- Be a sustainable consumer. Purchase products—like coffee, paper, wood, and chocolate—that are certified Rainforest Safe by the Rainforest Alliance.
- Use the search engine Ecosia to plant trees while searching the internet.
- Sign petitions, like this one from Greenpeace, and contact your local policymakers.
- Most of all, stay informed! Learn more and speak up for environmental causes you care about.
What will you do to help the Amazon?
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