Following the alarming 3pm blackout last Monday in Sao Paulo, South America’s largest city, news broke out that the Amazon Rainforest has been on fire for an alarming three weeks already at the time.
As millions of people began to voice out their concerns, I was in pure shock. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to react. My heart, to put it simply, broke.
🌎Just a little alert to the world: the sky randomly turned dark today in São Paulo, and meteorologists believe it’s smoke from the fires burning *thousands* of kilometers away, in Rondônia or Paraguay. Imagine how much has to be burning to create that much smoke(!). SOS🌎 pic.twitter.com/P1DrCzQO6x— Shannon Sims (@shannongsims) 20 August 2019
How did it get this far and grow this big? Why were we only finding out about it now? The mighty Amazon — known as the “Lungs of the Earth” — is still burning at a devastating record breaking rate and is being accelerated by climate change!
People, including myself, were expressing feelings of helplessness and frustration, wishing they knew about it earlier. Many major news outlets didn't seem to kick into gear until images from a Gotham-like São Paulo appeared online. With so many questions building up in my head, and very little information surfacing, all anyone could do at that moment was continue to spread the word.
Sadly, the Amazon’s predicament is nothing new — it's been an ongoing battle for many years now. Indigenous people of the Amazon have been fighting for the rainforest, their home, for years. Sometimes, even at the cost of their own lives.
Why does the Amazon matter?
The Amazon is the largest tropical forest in the world, covering more than five million square kilometres across nine countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.
More than 30 million people live in the Amazon, which is also home to large numbers of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, most of them unique to the region. A new plant or animal species is discovered there every three days.
However, tragically, because huge parts of the forest are being destroyed so fast, we may never know all the riches it holds.
The Amazon forest, which produces about 20% of earth's oxygen, as mentioned, is often referred to as "the Lungs of the Earth.”
People around the world, as well as locally, depend on the Amazon. Not just for food, water, wood and medicines, but to help stabilise the climate, playing a critical role in global and regional carbon and water cycles.
An inferno in the Amazon, two-thirds of which is in Brazil, threatens the rainforest ecosystem and also affects the entire globe.
Why is the Amazon burning? Is it due to climate change?
Unlike wildfires in California, or the bushfires in Australia, the Amazon fires aren't natural. These fires were not caused by climate change. About 99% of Amazon fires are set by human actions, either on purpose or by accident.
However, climate change can make fires worse. Fires can burn hotter and spread more quickly under warmer and drier conditions.
What's unprecedented this year is how many individual fires were sparked at the same time. In 2019, Brazil has recorded more fires than in any other year since researchers began keeping track in 2013 — and there are still four months to go.
While deforestation is neither new nor limited to one nation, Brazilian activists are blaming their president, Jair Bolsonaro. On Friday demonstrators blocked São Paulo’s main Paulista Avenue, railing against Bolsonaro and the powerful agribusiness sector that supports him. One cardboard placard read “boycott Brazilian meat”. Brazilians often take part in demonstrations, but rarely over environmental issues. So for them to take this stand, sends a loud message. Read more by clicking here.
How will this affect our planet?
As the world's largest rainforest, the Amazon plays a crucial role in keeping our planet's carbon-dioxide levels in check. Plants and trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air in their process of photosynthesis. But when trees burn, they release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change.
Scientists fear parts of the Amazon could pass a critical threshold and transform from a lush rainforest into a dry, woody grassland. And that could bring catastrophic consequences not only for people in South America, but also for everyone around the world.
"The Amazon is incredibly important for our future, for our ability to stave off the worst of climate change," Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organization Amazon Watch, told CNN. "This isn't hyperbole. We're looking at untold destruction — not just of the Amazon but for our entire planet."
What are we (Seed & Sprout) doing?
With every eligible order we include a 100% compostable and plantable seed card which contains real seeds for you to plant at home.
As well as this, in partnership with Earth Day Network, we also plant a tree in an area of need!
And from now, up until the end of this year, we are focusing all our efforts to the reforestation of the Amazon Rainforest.
It's not a lot, we know, but it's a start.
How can you help?
While it might seem overwhelming and devastating, and far removed from everyday life, there are always things that can be done. Here are some ways you can make a difference:
Knowledge is power. The more you learn about the crisis that’s happening, the more you can help. Educate yourself.
Share your outrage. Let’s continue to make noise! Share it on social media or talk to your friends and family about it. It’s up to all of us to make this socially, economically and politically unacceptable, and to help stop it happening again in the future. The more voices we have, the louder our call for urgent action. Keep sharing updates, tag influencers, demand a rallying cry.
Ecosia.org is a search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches you run.
Sign Petitions. Greenpeace's petition is telling the Brazilian government to save the Amazon rainforest and protect the lands of indigenous and traditional communities.
Support the courageous resistance of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon.
Take steps to live sustainably. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Keep trash and food waste out of landfills. Trash and food waste in a landfill create methane which is exponentially more potent of a greenhouse gas than CO2. When global temperatures rise, so does the occurrence of natural disasters, like forest fires.
Say 'see ya' to plastic. Avoid single-use and the companies that produce them. Not only is consuming from single-use plastic very toxic and dangerous to your health, plastic items are a threat to the Amazon Rainforest and our oceans.
Verify your palm oil. At 66 million tons annually, palm oil is the most commonly produced vegetable oil. Its low world market price and properties that lend themselves to processed foods have led the food industry to use it in half of all supermarket products. Palm oil can be found in frozen pizzas, biscuits and margarine, as well as body creams, soaps, makeup, candles and detergents.
Palm oil is also used as biofuel. Since 2009, the mandatory blending of biofuels into motor vehicle fuels has been a major cause of deforestation.
Some palm oil is sustainable, most is not. Be sure to use only CSPO (Certified Sustainable Palm Oil) - Note the "C" stands for Certified, which is the important part.
Reduce your beef intake. Beef found in processed products and fast-food burgers is often linked to deforestation.
Reduce your paper and wood consumption. A lot of paper comes from trees chopped down in the Amazon. Less demand, in theory, means less deforestation.
Our everyday consumption choices contribute to climate change, but there are little things we can do that make a big difference!
Let us know what you are doing reduce your impact on the environment and help to combat global warming!