The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning?

September 3, 2019
Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest By lubasi (Catedral Verde – Floresta Amazonica) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sadly, the answer is yes, and this year more of the Amazon Rainforest has burned than in years past. But what’s causing these fires and why are climate change experts worried? First, what’s causing all of these fires? If you’re thinking humans, you’re right. People have been cutting down patches of the rainforest, drying the land out, and then setting it on fire to clear space for agriculture like raising cattle. After all, farmers know that beef is in high demand and having more land to raise cows means more money. But the cause for concern lies in the environmental cost of raising more cattle.

The Amazon Rainforest is often referred to as Earth’s “lungs” because it’s over 2.1 million square mile releases oxygen (that’s the stuff we breathe!) into the atmosphere and traps carbon dioxide (the stuff that traps heat and causes the planet to warm). So bottom line, the Amazon Rainforest is extremely important for the health of the planet and for us (the people living on it!). With all of this deforestation, there’s growing concern by climate change experts that the Amazon will become more of a savannah. The trees and other forestation would release their once-trapped carbon dioxide into the air. Furthermore, more and more animals would go extinct and the planet will continue to warm.

Sixty percent of the rainforest is in Brazil, and the Brazilian economy depends heavily on beef and agriculture—Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter and the second largest exporter of soybeans. While the Amazon rainforest is an important ecosystem to the health of the entire planet, it’s also land that those in the agriculture, logging, and mining businesses can use to make more money, and local people can cultivate to make a living. It’s a difficult challenge to encourage people not to use the land for themselves, but instead to think of the good of the world.

What would you suggest?