Amazon Rainforest Fire Ravages Wildlife

October 7, 2019

The Amazon Rainforest, also known as the “Lungs of the Earth”, has been ravaged by various wildfires spread across Brazil in recent weeks and the reluctance by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro to accept international aid has not been helping the situation. Although the Amazon rainforest generally experiences forest fires during the late summer season, the number of fires has spiked this year, generating worldwide panic through social media posts and news sources. This led to the topic to be addressed at the 45th G7 summit held in Biarritz, France from August 24th-26th in 2019, in which international leaders agreed to a $20 million aid package to assist Brazil with the crisis at hand.

The Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest on Earth and is larger than the second and third rainforests combined. It is estimated to be home to one million indigenous people, along with 3 million plant & animal species. One out of ten known species on Earth know the rainforest as their home, and it produces a massive 20% of Earth’s oxygen. The rainforest contains 1.4 billion acres of dense forest. Nearly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest is found in Brazil, and 70 percent of South America’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is produced in areas that receive rainfall or water from the Amazon.

Eraldo Peres
A fire burning in the Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho.

One of the various reasons why the Amazon rainforest is vital is because of the massive number of trees that lie inside of it. The estimated 390 billion trees that reside in the rainforest are essential on a global scale to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, and the forest fires that have been prevalent this year have been doing the exact opposite by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in mass quantities. The destruction of the once prominent foliage results in their inability to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen during the period until they grow back. For a decimated rainforest that has been entirely cleared of trees to regenerate, we are looking at it to take as little as 65 years to revert back to the original, with certain aspects not reaching its full potential for another 4,000 years. Various plants found in the Amazon are also used for their medicinal properties, and the destruction of a large quantity of these may cause a lack of these resources, an increase in price, or both for consumers globally.

With such a large impact worldwide, if it curious as to who is to blame in the case of the Amazon rainforest fires? These fires are commonly used by farmers and cattle ranchers to clear large amounts of land quickly to create pastures and cultivate land for agriculture use. However, the number of fires has shot up exponentially this year, and many believe that the Brazillian president Jair Bolsonaro is at fault. In late October of 2018, Bolsonaro was elected with 55.1% of the vote. He is a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, homosexuality, abortion, affirmative action, drug liberalization, and secularism, and has been described by many as far-right. The importance of his presidency relating to the fires, however, is his pro-market policies, and his promise to the citizens of Brazil to improve their struggling economy. As a result of this, many suspect that he is at fault for the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, both in the nature that he may encourage said destruction as well as ignore the mass deforestation to try to give businesses priority over local ecosystems.

Jair Bolsonaro is a very controversial figure in Brazil.

This is further proven by his rejection of over 22 million dollars at the G7 summit by some of the world’s wealthiest nations in order to assist Brazil with the crisis at hand. Eventually, Brazil did accept 12 million dollars from Britain to combat the wildfires. Bolsonaro suggested in a tweet that France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, was intending to disguise “his intentions behind the idea of an ‘alliance’ of the G7 countries to ‘save’ the Amazon as if we were a colony or a no-man’s land.”

Bolsonaro is also facing various problems in his country of Brazil, where his government’s approval had been rated “bad or terrible” by a whopping 39.5 percent of his people, up from 19 percent in February. This survey was taken between the dates of August 22nd and 25th. The president’s personal performance was also rated as “bad or terrible” by a miserable 53.7 percent of Brazillians. The fires continue to rage in the Amazon to this day, although other countries have stepped in to assist Brazil with the devastating effects of the fires.

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