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The Amazons ablaze: What's happening and how you can help.

What caused the fire?

Everyone has been horrified by the devastating footage, that has emerged of the Amazon rainforest in uncontrolled blazing fires. Now researchers and environmental organisations say the blazes were most likely set by humans who wanted to clear and use the land for business purposes. Farmers have been setting forests ablaze to create pastures, emboldened by Brazil’s conservative pro-business government.

With Brazil declaring earlier this month, a state of emergency over the rising number of fires in the region, it sets for a very scary future. This year so far has seen almost 73,000 fires, that have been detected by Brazil's space research centre, INPE. These terrifying figures show a 83% increase from 2018 and the highest number on record since 2013. 

To put things in perspective

The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and a key ally in fighting the climate crisis. However, it is suppose to be absorbing carbon, not producing it. The trees in the Amazon contain up to 140 billion tonnes of carbon, which is the equivalent of what humans produce in 100 years. Without forests there is no way we can fight the climate crisis. 

How can you help?

Unfortunately there is actually little you can do in terms of putting out the fire, but there are other ways you can aid in protecting the rainforest.

Reduce your beef intake

Typically found in fast food hamburgers or processed beef products, you will find rainforest beef. In both 1993 and 1994 the U. S. imported over 200 million pounds of fresh and frozen beef from Central American countries. In which, two-thirds of these countries' rainforests have been cleared, in part to raise cattle whose meat is exported to profit the U. S. food industry. When the beef enters the U. S., it is not labeled with its country of origin, so there is no way to trace it to its source. Reducing your consumption of beef will reduce demand for it, cutting back on pressure to clear more forests for cattle.

Reduce your paper and wood consumption

By reducing your own paper and wood use, you can help reduce the pressure on our forests. For example:

  1. Using your own cloth bags at the grocery store;

  2. Using cloth napkins and towels;

  3. Avoid disposable paper plates and cups - treat yourself to a reusable coffee flask.

Logging companies are continuing to cut down some of the most endangered forests on the planet to make wood and paper products such as office paper, toilet paper, window trim, and lawn furniture. There are many alternative things you can use, such as who gives a crap toilet paper, or recycled printer paper. Over seventy-eight percent of the Earth's original old growth forests have already been logged or degraded.

Reduce your oil consumption

The burning of gas, coal, and oil is the primary cause of climate change. Scientists have predicted that if we stay on our current path, global temperatures will rise between 2° and 9° Fahrenheit in the next century, which is an extremely scary statistic. In addition, oil exploration projects lead to toxic pollution and massive deforestation, posing a threat to pristine ecosystems and indigenous cultures worldwide.

The next time you purchase a car, go for one that gets good fuel mileage and avoid gas guzzling vehicles. If you drive somewhere regularly, start a carpool, or whenever possible, walk or ride your bike instead. Look into also taking local transport where possible.

Hold Businesses accountable

End of the day, large corporations are the main cause of the destruction to Earth's environments, that being on land, in the atmosphere, and the seas, oceans, and rivers. If you feel that a company's business practices are environmentally irresponsible, send a letter to the company expressing your concern, or organise a boycott of the company. Corporations need to know that the public will hold them accountable for business practices that are socially or environmentally destructive.

Sign the petitions

WWF are calling on the UK government to put the Amazon emergency on to the top of the G7 agenda, as well as every global agenda after that. We need to focus on ending the importation of goods that have caused deforestation - and governments need to set the policies to make that happen.

The petition can be signed here.

You can also sign this petition to demand that the EU and the United Nations put sanctions in place to force Brazil’s government to address the problems surrounding deforestation.

Further on, a lawyer in Brazil has even started a petition to force the government to investigate the fires properly

Show your outrage

There is currently a huge uproar on social media, but continue to spread the message of upset and anger. Talk to your family and friends about the situation. It’s up to all of us to make this socially, economically and politically unacceptable, and to help stop it happening again in the future. The more voices we have, the louder our call for urgent action. Keep sharing updates and spreading your views.

Donate to WWFs emergency appeal

WWF pledge with your help to:

  • Identify the most affected areas and the communities most in need of our support;

  • Raise awareness to take action against the fires and deforestation;

  • Advocate for stronger laws in the Brazilian parliament;

  • Support community services to reduce the fires and offer emergency relief where it’s needed.

Donate here.

Educate yourself

The Amazon contains over a third of the world’s remaining rainforest, and is also known as the lungs of the world. The tragedy is that we are losing it, and fast. The more you learn about the crisis that’s happening, the more you can help.

The fires are a selfish act of mankind, with the direct result of soaring deforestation rates, caused by clearing land for agriculture and cattle farming. The scary thing is we've seen a massive increase in the number of fires in 2019, and half of these have been in the last 20 days. The direct result of increases in deforestation rates is caused by farmers going largely unchecked by Brazilian government. 

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