Fighting fire with fire

Amazon Fires Continue

The Amazon rainforest — ever since you were little, you’ve learned about the thousands of species of animals and insects that live in this beautiful forest. There have even been many documentaries made to show people around the world rare sites you might see if you were to visit this glorious forest. You even learned about how precious it was through school projects and discussions you may have had while growing up. Now what would you say if I told you this same forest is up in flames. Why? Well, there is a very simple answer to that: money.

Don’t take these uncontrollable fires for something that can be put out within a couple of days, weeks or even months; they are a lot uglier than that.

To understand exactly how money is the problem of this massive deforestation, you need to look into the root of the problem which started before these fires ever became an issue. Earlier this year Brazilian cattle ranchers and loggers began to increase the constant burning of land, illegally, during the dry seasons of July and August to make room for more plantations and grazing of cattle.

Minuscule fires set by cattle owners can lead to uncontrollable fires when the seasons become too dry like what happened earlier this year. More than 80,000 fires were started all over Brazil. 

The strong drive for money from these ranchers and loggers eventually helped lead to horrendous downfalls for the whole country. Fires didn’t just start out of thin air, they’ve been slowly growing this whole time, but when they got too out of hand that’s when people started to give the issue attention.

However, it doesn’t just stop there because the government played a large role in this issue. President Jair Bolsanaro had recently cut 23% of the Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), IBAMA, organization’s budget, which was controlling the fires, to overturn a fine that was keeping most of these fires in check.

Without this fine, cattle owners enjoyed the freedom of burning land as they pleased. This, as you can imagine, is how the Amazon fires increased rapidly in a short amount of time. However, instead of the President acknowledging this issue and fixing the damage he did to policies of IBAMA, he ignored the issue and looked at the positive side to burning parts of his country — economic growth. 

The more land burned the more room for cattle growth, and the more food produced to sell off to other countries like Europe, China and even the United States.  

Probably one of the best parts of this entire situation is the protesting of the other countries through boycotting. Europe told sources that they wouldn’t allow the importing of any beef from any parts of Brazil until they could get the fires under control. How’s that for economic growth? Countries like Norway and France were doing the same. 

By not paying attention to the destruction that was happening to the land and people he governed, Bolsonaro created massive issues and problems that were left for his people to deal with. His plan of wealth blew up in his face and left him with the complete opposite: humiliation and soon-to-be poverty. Destroying one of Brazil’s most attractive features is not the way to make a country more successful. 

The Amazon is home to more than 1,500 birds, 40,000 plants and up to 2.5 million insect species. This vivid forest makes up about 10% of the entire world’s species and 6% of the oxygen all over the world that we breathe each day. Now, much of this beauty is gone. 

Most people believe the fires are over or that it wasn’t ever our problem in the first place. They’re wrong. Since when is the possible depletion of the 6% of the oxygen we breathe not something we should worry about? Speaking of breathing, have people given time to consider what life must be like for those who live around the fires? According to sources, the fires got so bad that Sao Paulo was being covered by dark gray foggy skies for days when the fires became critical. 

Jessie Yeung from CNN wrote that “cities closest to the fires saw a 36% increase in children’s hospitalizations for respiratory diseases, the report found.” Killing the Amazon forest is leading to the harming of Brazilian people. What’s the point of having wealth if there might not be enough healthy people to enjoy that wealth? 

Growing up with two Brazilian parents that taught me about the beautiful culture. I feel more passionate about helping out a country I intend on spending my life learning more about. With the largest rainforest in the world burning more each day, we should fear that any of us won’t soon be allowed that privilege anymore. 

Although the amount of fires have decreased since 2019, the Amazon fires are still ongoing and land is still being burned. And if nothing is done about this soon, when fire season starts again, 2019 may not be the only year with major fires for the country.

One of the world’s most beautiful places is burning to ashes and nobody is doing enough to stop it. The Amazon rainforest may be inside the country of Brazil, but it belongs to us all. And it’s time we give it the voice it needs.