The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is known for being the largest forest in the world. It covers most of northern Brazil, stretching across approximately 2.2 million square miles. It’s one of Earth’s most important ecosystems and is currently burning down. However, not much coverage on it is surfacing. If the forest were to burn down Earth would lose a very large carbon sink.
“I don’t really see it on the news,” sophomore Blair Cruz said. “I’ve only seen it on Instagram. It’s almost like it isn’t covered nationally even though the Amazon Forest is a very important part of the Earth.”
The rainforest has had reports of non-stop burning since mid-August of 2019 and is currently still ablaze but the forest has had on and off blazes throughout this year. The flames are dumping tons of carbon into the air and in the middle of the Amazon’s dry season. The rainforest is home to many species that would go extinct if the forest were to completely burn down.
The forest is reaching a “tipping point” and once it gets there, there will be no going back. According to Brazil’s leading expert on the Amazon and climate change Carlos Nobre, if over 25 percent of the Amazon is burned down then most of the forest will turn into a dry savanna. This is something that will not be able to be fixed.
“I think it’s honestly disappointing,” junior Valarie Montoya said. “I don’t understand why someone would needlessly want to burn down a forest.”
The causes for these fires and excess amount of carbon, however, isn’t just natural. For years people have been burning the forest to gain land to grow crops and farm. Yet this year it’s happening more than before and because of the forest’s history of being constantly burned, it makes the soil and plants sensitive to the flames. The fires have gotten to the point that Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has made burning of the Amazon forest illegal through the dry season. However, this hasn’t stopped people from burning the forest at all. According to the World Bank, 80 percent of the forest’s burning is due to people wanting more land for cattle ranching.
According to The Global Forest Watch, at least 156,000 fires have been reported which is already higher than the record in 2010. In previous years, Brazil’s government has successfully slowed deforestation in a good way. In 2005 to 2014, deforestation had decreased by 75 percent.
The Amazon fires have a bigger impact on people than some may know and helping putting them out will help slow down the effects of climate change and what it does to the Earth.