What Is Really Happening In The Amazon Rainforest And Why Are We Freaking Out Just Now?

By: Meggy Garcia

So today, you pulled out your phone and mindlessly scrolled through social media only to see people freaking out about the current state of the Amazon rainforest. Yes, it’s an obvious subject of concern as you read through individual sentiments informing many regarding vast climate destruction and asking others to educate themselves with the knowledge of how detrimental the effects of government policies are when it comes to the survival of our planet.

And it’s true; the earth is dying – at an unimaginable rate at that if were are to continue causing the emission of several greenhouse gases that are responsible for global climate change. While it is high time – and thank Jesus for this – to speak about environmental affairs, why are we all just freaking out now? We should’ve been scared to death about this when the film, 2012 showed us the possibilities of our demise. When thousands of reports and documentaries have been made available to the public since the talks of global warming started, what did we do? Perhaps, we simply warmed our seats as we watched the news and cried boohoo the end is near but forgot all about it the following day. There have been on-going debates as to when the earth’s total degradation will begin. So, of course, the Amazon rainforest is on fire, we didn’t act quick enough to save it then. The real question now: what are we prepared to sacrifice in order to restore what has since been lost? Which parts of our humanity must we access to really make a change?

According to data released this week by the National Insitute for Space Research in Brazil, the wildfires reached a record high of 74,000 just this year. That means it’s increased a whopping 84% from the year before. A bit of background – in 2005 and 2006, the Amazon basin successively experienced its worst drought after a hundred years. And an article in the UK published by The Independent in 2006, reported that the forest could only withstand three years of drought before it reaches irreversible conditions. In the succeeding years, especially in 2010, the Amazon’s alarming state was exacerbated by continuous tree cutting, farming, and mining, resulting in the three epicenters where vegetation perished.

Another question. Why should we be worried? If you must know, the Amazon rainforest is crucial in the total production of oxygen on our planet. About 20% of the earth’s oxygen is being produced in that region alone. And more than this, the rainforest is home to great biodiversity with the largest collection of plant and animal species on the entire planet. It also has a substantial carbon store which mitigates the speed of global warming. As if these are not reason enough to rally for the Amazon rainforest’ protection!

This begs the question: what is Brazil’s government doing? Well, its very president, Jair Bolsonaro has been facing major scrutiny because of the promised implementation of the limiting of fines for damaging the forests during his presidential campaign. If you’re confused, I am too. What possessed him to do so, knowing fully well that the degradation of the Amazon forest could potentially turn into a world crisis? He has an answer as he remains dubious of several environmental claims and stated that its laws were “suffocating” Brazil’s economy. Well, if our planet is gone, then you wouldn’t have an economy to think of, huh?

Bolsonaro’s regime led to public outcry and protests, prompting the people of Brazil to rally against government jurisdiction. An Amazon forest campaigner for Greenpeace Brazil stated in an article posted on The Hill that “those who destroy the Amazon and let deforestation continue unabated are encouraged in doing so by the Bolsonaro government’s actions and policies…Since taking office, the current government has been systematically dismantling Brazil’s environment policy.”

Bolsonaro has been hailed as the Donald Trump of Brazil as the rate of deforestation quickly increased since his appointment in the presidential office. “I am waiting for the next set of numbers, that will not be made up numbers. If they are alarming, I will take notice of them in front of you,” he said as a reply to the 84% rise in deforestation. Bolsanoro blames local NGOs, citing them as the root of wildfires after their funds have been cut. There is, however, no evidence to support this claim.

But while Bolsonaro fights with his people and maybe, the entire internet, what are you going to do?

One way to go about it is surely through discourse. Conversations could lead to a singular public sentiment that different nations’ government need to hear: prioritize our planet.  The survival of our environment is of prime importance. How do we even speak about economies, solve starvation, create equality, and so much more when the very land we’re stepping on is no longer. By then, no voices will be heard. If you’re freaking out now, it’s good to be unsettled… as we should’ve been years before.

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