BRAZIL – Officials say the Amazon rainforest is burning at a record rate. Earlier this month, Brazil declared a state of emergency over the rising number of fires in the region. So far this year, almost 73,000 fires have been detected by Brazil’s space research center INPE. That marks an 83% increase from 2018 and the highest number on record since 2013, Reuters reported.
How did the Amazon rainforest fires start?
While the rainforest is typically wet and humid, July and August, the onset of the dry season, is the area’s driest months, with “activity” peaking by early September and stopping by mid-November, according to NASA. The fires are largely linked to people clearing out the land for farming or ranching.
What areas are affected?
According to Euronews, fires in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Para, Mato Grosso, and Rondonia. The state of Amazonas is most affected.
Effects of damage to the Amazon go far beyond Brazil and its neighbors. The area’s rainforest generates more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and 10% of the world’s known biodiversity.
The Amazon is referred to as the lungs of the planet and plays a major role in regulating the climate. The world would drastically change if the rainforest were to disappear, impacting everything from farming to the water we drink.
How long has the Amazon been on fire?
The European Union Earth Observation Program’s Sentinel satellites captured images of significant amounts of smoke over the Amazonas, Rondonia states and other areas.
The skies darkened over San Paulo, Brazil, for an hour Monday afternoon after winds carried smoke from about 1700 miles away.
How can I help?
It’s unlikely you’re one of the people who can actually help douse the blaze, but there are other ways you can aid in protecting the rainforest.
- Donate to the Rainforest Trust to help buy land in the rainforest.
- Donate to Rainforest Action Network to protect an acre of the Amazonian rainforest.
- Reduce your paper and wood consumption. Double-check with Rainforest Alliance that what you’re buying is rainforest-safe. You can also purchase rainforest safe products from the alliance’s site.
- Ecosia.org is a search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches you run.
- The World Wide Fund for Nature works to protect the countless species in the Amazon and around the world.
- Donate to Amazon Watch, an organization that protects the rainforest defends indigenous rights and works to address climate change.
- Donate to the Amazon Conservation Team, which works to fight climate change, protect the Amazon and empower indigenous peoples.
- Explore Change.org petitions. A lawyer in Rio Branco has accumulated over 77,000 of his 150,000 signature goal to mobilize an investigation into the Amazonian fires.
- Amazon Conservation accepts donations (which can be tax-deductible) and lists exactly what your money goes toward. You can help plant trees, sponsor education, protect habitats, buy a solar panel, preserve indigenous lands and more.