- Almost 73,000 fires have been recorded in the Amazon rainforest this year — nearly double 2018’s total of about 40,000 fires. It’s a record high.
- The fires come from humans — it’s the time of the year when farmers use fire to clear land — but hot, dry conditions mean fires are spreading, and President Jair Bolsonaro is actively not trying to help.
In August this year I was in the Amazon on a month long plant healing retreat. At the same time, wildfires poured so much smoke into the air that Sao Paulo’s sky — thousands of miles away from the nearest conflagration — turned charcoal, blotting out the afternoon sun. I could not believe it: the very same plants that were healing me, that provide a source for medicines for healing so many other illnesses, is being destroyed now at an increasing rate.
As humans, we are entering a healing crisis. Our desire for economic development is threatening the very same eco-systems we depend on for healing both our own bodies and this planet. There are cultural and spiritual implications too – these are reflected in how anti-environmental, pro-industrial populist leaders like Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro have been elected to power. It seems that we are being seduced into allowing people like this to lead us. And this is symptomatic of a illness that is insidiously infecting politics and the people to we give our power to.
We can, we must … take action. NOW
We are at a turning point: we need to collectively take action to save the Amazon and our planet. In this post you’ll find some resources for what you can do – from the daily actions, to organisations you can get involved with and support. Please take action!
Losing the Amazon would imperil the United Nations’ Global Goals.
The Amazon Rainforest is burning at a pace that hasn’t been seen in more than a decade. More than 39,000 wildfires have been documented so far this year, a 77% increase from the year before.
The fires have largely been set by farmers, cattle drivers, and henchmen for other industries who want to raze huge chunks of the forest to expand their businesses, according to the Intercept. Farmers want to plant crops like soybean, cattle drivers want to let their livestock graze, and the mining industry, for example, wants to build roads to transport minerals.
The Amazon provides 20% of the planet’s oxygen, houses millions of different species, regulates massive planetary systems, and buffers countries against the ravages of climate change. Its destruction would accelerate the decline of wildlife around the world and could unravel the efforts that have been made in the global fight against extreme poverty. All of the United Nations Global Goals, for that matter, would be endangered by its loss.
The industrial interests destroying the Amazon have the support of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who came into office promising to end regulations that shield the forest and also strip Indigenous people who protect the forest of their rights.
Here’s what you can do to help the burning, ravaged Amazon rainforest
1. Educate yourself and others
You can learn more about the crisis from official sources and educate friends and family on all the details. The more people know about how serious the crisis is, the more that can be done.
For those who can read Portuguese, there’s Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, which uses satellite imagery and records the number of wildfires. Otherwise, InfoAmazonia has a map showing fires that are burning in Brazil. Another feature it offers is a map that lets you compare your location with the Amazon deforestation.
You can also read up on the issue from major news outlets covering developments with the fires, including, of course, Business Insider.
2. Reduce, reuse, recycle
It’s also worth learning what can be done in your day-to-day life, which can have lasting effects on the rain forest — like reducing the amount of paper and wood you use.
A lot of paper comes from trees chopped down in the Amazon. Less demand, in theory, means less deforestation.
3. Donate to a charity
Six charities that work to help the Amazon rainforest have received at least three out of four stars from Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that rates charities on their accountability and financial management.
Here are links to their websites, listed in alphabetical order:
Amazon Conservation Team works hand-in-hand with Indigenous leaders to ensure the long-term welfare of the Amazon Rainforest.
Amazon Conservation Association has trained hundreds of conservationists who work to support the restoration of the Amazon Rainforest and sustainable Indigenous-led economies. The organization has planted more than 275,000 trees to date.
Amazon Watch fights the destruction of the Amazon, supports Indigenous rights, and finds climate justice solutions.
The Rainforest Action Network “preserves forests, protects the climate, and upholds human rights by challenging corporate power and systemic injustice through frontline partnerships and strategic campaigns.”
The Rainforest Foundation works on-the-ground to secure land rights for indigenous people.
The Rainforest Trust has saved more than 23 million acres of the Amazon Rainforest since 1988 by funding projects that restore and protect ecosystems.
While it’s probably not a good idea to volunteer to actually fight the fires, unless you’re a trained firefighter, there are other ways to make a difference. Contact any of the charities listed in the previous slide and ask them what you can do.
These charities can, and do, make a difference.
In the late 1980s, Rainforest Action Network launched a campaign demanding that Burger King stop importing cheap beef from tropical rainforest areas, and the fast-food chain actually stopped — it canceled $35 million worth of beef contracts. More recently, the organisation has targeted Halloween candy made from palm oil.
5. Make your voice heard
The burning and deforestation of the Amazon rain forest will have lasting effects on the global climate. It might be in a different country, but members of Congress can still take action.
And while you wait to see their responses, you can be vocal online. #PrayforAmazonia and #AmazonRainforest are trending hashtags on the issue.
Organisations helping to preserve the Amazon that I love
- Amazon Watch
- Earth Alliance and a statement from them
- Rainforest Action Network
- Rainforest Alliance
- Rainforest Foundation US