As if we needed another reminder that we’re in a deep climate crisis, the Amazon rainforest — which produces about 20% of the world’s oxygen and is often referred to as “the planet’s lungs” — has been consumed by fire for about a week now and mainstream U.S. media has been slow on widely reporting this news.
According to the New York Times, the National Institute for Space Research, which monitors fires using satellite images, reported on this week “that it had detected 39,194 fires this year in the world’s largest rain forest, a 77 percent increase from the same period in 2018.”
The president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, who is pro deforestation, said environmentalists are to blame for the mass fires.
“They are now feeling the pinch from the lack of funding. So, maybe the NGO types are conducting these criminal acts in order to generate negative attention against me and against the Brazilian government,” Bolsonaro said when blaming nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for the Amazon rainforest fires, according to CNN. “This is the war we are facing.”
However, Bolsonaro’s environmental policies have been controversial since the beginning of his presidency. He has continuously been criticized and opposed for wanting to exploit the Amazon rainforest’s land for economic capital.
Aside from Brazil’s president — acting similar to Donald Trump in their denial of climate change — people of Brazil and from all around the world are feeling helpless and defeated. With the little media coverage the Amazon rainforest fires have received, people on social media are beginning to express their anger and notice the hypocrisies comparing this to when billionaires were quick to fund restoration over the Norte Dame Cathedral in Paris when it caught on fire earlier this year.
As of this week, people on social media have also continued to share the horrifying images of the Amazon rainforest and its effect on neighboring cities like São Paulo, which is more than 1,700 miles away. For example, dramatic images of dark skies in places like São Paulo and even Paraguay, show the lengths to which the smoke from the Amazon rainforest fires traveled.
It’s also important to note that Indigenous women have been at the forefront of this environmental fight because their own land is in danger of being wiped out. And as more and more people on social media continue to circulate images of the Amazon rainforest fire, Indigenous women are left out of the narrative.
When Notre Dame was on fire, it was seen as a global emergency, millions of people physically sent millions to an already millionaire church/tourist attraction.
The Earth's most important LUNG is ON FIRE right now, yet we are not nearly as concerned…#AmazonRainforest pic.twitter.com/UB85216kkg
— Lido Pimienta (@LidoPimienta) August 21, 2019
If you’re looking to help support the fight to save the Amazon rainforest, there are proactive ways to show you care about the environment. Aside from using hashtags #PrayforAmazonas, #PrayforAmazonia, and #AmazonRainforest on social media, here are some important ways to help — and make a direct impact:
- Donate to Rainforest Action Network to protect an acre of the Amazonian rainforest.
- Donate to the Rainforest Trust to help buy land in the rainforest. Since 1988, the organization has saved over 23 million acres and counting.
- 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.
- The World Wide Fund for Nature works to protect the countless species in the Amazon and around the world.
- Ecosia.org is a search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches you run.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Contact your elected officials and make your voice heard.