3 Things We Can Do to Help the Burning Amazon Rain Forest
Updated: Sep 3, 2019
A storm is blowing in...wispy gray clouds have now taken over the sky.
I'm sitting on my couch writing this now, but earlier saw these clouds gathering as I was running around Delaware Park in Buffalo, N.Y. Although it's very outlandish, I couldn't help but wonder: could these be from the burning Amazon? I know they can't, but I can't stop thinking about that beautiful region consumed in flames...
Earlier, as I was running to take my mind off of this news, I'd tried to focus on the beautiful evening. It was humid, but the cooler winds picking up to blow in forecasted isolated thunderstorms made it a gorgeous evening for a run.
Running outside is one of my absolute favorite things in the world--and Buffalo's Hoyt Lake, which reflects the surrounding foliage like a mirror perfectly every day--is a place I never tire of running.
But this evening, my normally high-spirited running attitude was dampened by worry: my Facebook feed had been inundated earlier with posts about how a record number of fires had taken over the Amazon rainforest this year, thanks to conservative president Bolsonaro.
Today, NASA released startling images that showed the fires were so bad, they could be seen from space. And that's not all--they literally made the city of São Paulo, about 2,000 miles away, look like night at 3 p.m. in the afternoon.
72,000—that's the record number of fires there have been in the Amazon this year alone. That's higher than any other year in history--an over 80% increase from last year, according to many sources.
I don't want to get too bogged down with the numbers...I feel like plenty of news agencies are slapping us over the head with those (and, having worked in multiple news rooms, I know numbers are always used toward the front of stories because readers "love" them).
I'd rather talk about how, running around the park earlier this evening, I couldn't help but notice multiple strollers. I listened to kids cheering as they played on a swing set and jungle gym. I thought about what a world without a rainforest might mean to them.
Without a rainforest--yes, I know that's extreme. But unfortunately what is looking more and more likely is an Earth that looks very different than the one we are enjoying today.
A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists warns that by mid-century, the number of days with heat indexes over 100 degrees F is expected to double by mid-century. But the scariest part is the number of people exposed to "off the charts" heat indexes of 127 degrees F or above is growing EXPONENTIALLY.
How does this relate to the Amazon rainforest you may ask? The burning trees are doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing right now--they are releasing way, way more CO2 into the air that traps heat thanks to the greenhouse effect.
So what will the world look like for these poor children when they get older? That is my incredibly deep, gut-wrenching concern.
I see nature as comparable to an organ that is necessary for our survival--not just physically, but mentally.
What would we do without this vital piece of our human existence?
Well, I don't want to find out, so I'm going to keep writing and brainstorming ways we can fix this mess.
If you'd like to help the Amazon Rainforest, here are some things you can do:
1. Donate to a charity that protects the rainforest
Today I donated $25 to help[ protect an acre through the Rainforest Action Network (https://www.ran.org/mission-and-values/). It was incredibly easy. I know $25 is a lot, so please don't feel like you have to go that high (if you haven't noticed, I'm just kind of passionate). Here are links to some other options:
- Amazon Conservation Association: https://www.amazonconservation.org/
- Amazon Watch: https://amazonwatch.org/
- Rainforest Foundation US: https://rainforestfoundation.org/
2. Be a more conscious consumer
Is your furniture made from wood from the rainforest? Do everything you can to find out! No, this isn't as illegal as you may think. Also, PLEASE--at least reduce your beef consumption! Local beef isn't that terrible, but cattle ranching causes around 4/5 of the total South American rainforest destruction according to many sources!
3. Do your best to reduce your fossil fuel consumption--and please spread the word!
You'd think a "RAIN-forest" would be pretty wet and fire resistant. Well, it was, but thanks to climate change, it's getting drier. And that's bad news--drier means more susceptible to fires, and I don't think you want fires in a place that produces around 20% of the world's oxygen (thus why it's called the Earth's "lungs").
So we can help protect the rainforest by limiting the ways we contribute to climate change--ride your bike more, do what you can to limit your energy consumption (dress cooler and avoid air conditioners), drive a more fuel efficient vehicle or carpool, travel less, eat less meat--and maybe most importantly, support politicians who take climate change seriously and have plans to address it!
Nature is resilient. I do believe if we can just find a way to live in harmony with it, we can save this vital organ before it's too late.
(Sources: https://nypost.com/2019/08/20/smoke-from-amazon-fires-leaves-brazils-largest-city-in-total-darkness/; https://grist.org/article/new-study-extreme-heat-prediction-climate-change-action/; https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/08/20/amazon-rainforest-fires-smoke-seen-space/2067220001/; https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-49415973; https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-help-amazon-rainforest-what-charities-to-donate-to-2019#3-donate-to-a-charity-3;https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/5-ways-you-can-help-protect-the-amazon; https://rainforestfoundation.org/reducing-beef-consumption-helps-the-rainforest/; https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/meat-and-environment/ (cattle ranching)https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/amazon-rainforest-on-fire-2019/ (more frequent fires)