From sprawling lichen to the most tenacious jaguar, the Amazon is home to millions of diverse species. An intricate ecosystem dwells among the foliage of the rainforest, which produces 6% of the planet’s total oxygen (giving it the memorable title, “Lungs of the Earth.”) This ecosystem is in grave danger, according to Robinson Meyer of The Atlantic. Since January 2019, 1,330 square miles of the Amazon rainforest have burned to the ground.
Recent reports regarding the Amazon have shown an 80% increase in wildfire burns in 2019 compared to 2018. What’s more troubling is that these fires aren’t sporadic. The Amazon is burning because of deforestation as the direct consequence of the high demand for ranching and farming. Catalyzing the decimation of the rainforest has put the Brazilian government in the hot seat, and many have criticized their new President, Jair Bolsonaro, for putting economic advances ahead of wildlife conservation.
The destruction is political in many frames; If nothing is done to contain the pyre, millions of trees may be decimated beyond repair, threatening the viability of one of the world’s most precious macro-ecosystems. In addition, something that has received minimal media attention is the plight of indigenous Brazilian people who live among the rainforest. Burning down the Amazon doesn’t just displace entire animal species, it also displaces humans. Who will be held responsible for the chaos that is ensuing in Brazil? It would take approximately 10 million years to regrow the rainforest once it is gone. With that in mind, who will be taking on a leading role in stopping this catastrophe in its tracks?