Amazon on Fire
The “lungs of the planet” are still on fire. It has been 4 months since it became breaking news. However, January will mark the anniversary since the wildfires officially began. Despite worldwide support, the Amazon is still as unstable as ever. Unhinged fires, killings and even a Hollywood connection run rampant now.
Slash and burn techniques has rendered deforestation significantly easier. The rate of deforestation has reached the highest levels in 11 years. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research recently reported more than 80,000 reported cases of fires. This is a 70% increase in comparison to the previous year 2018. Due to this, the Amazon forest is losing land the size of 3 football fields per minute. Since the beginning of 2019, an area more than approximately 10 times the size of New York City has been deforested.
This is not the only repercussion. More than 1,600 kilometres West of the Amazon, glaciers in the Andean mountains are gradually getting coated with black particles. Smoke from the fires is blown West where they deposit dark carbon particles atop these glaciers. Eventually, they will accelerate melting as the particles absorb more heat from the Sun. Unfortunately, this is not the first time it has happened because smoke from Amazon fires had previously led to Zongo glacier in Bolivia melting faster.
The fires have threatened people, however, there is something potentially more dangerous. A combination of profitable deforestation and local corruption has made defending the land from deforestation impossible. With indigenous people largely unprotected from the government, fighting off illegal loggers is a dangerous job that can lead to deaths. Currently, there is an ongoing police investigation into the killing of ‘forest guardians’ by illegal loggers. This adds to the more than 300 people who have been killed in the past decade. Most of which was Amazon natives or national officers investigating the environmental crime.
The fight against the fires
As these rages on, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has accused Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio as a culprit for the Amazon fires. This is because DiCaprio had donated to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Bolsonaro has repeatedly accused, without evidence, organizations such as the WWF of arson in the Amazon. DiCaprio has responded by saying he is proud to be supporting organizations that have been aiding the preservation of cultural and natural heritage in this time of crisis.
While the Amazon forest continues to burn, the world holds its breath. Underneath all the smoke, shady businesses grow, people die, and public distractions ferment. Time can only tell what will happen next. But, if nothing is done to stop these fires and its consequences, it could lead to many severe repercussions.