When people think of the Amazon, they imagine the largest rainforest in the world. The name conjures up images of acres of brilliant green, exotic species of animals, and trees alive with the sounds of birds and insects. What many don’t imagine is the once-beautiful landscape on fire, the charred stumps all that is left of the magnificent trees.
Unfortunately, the second image is what is very quickly becoming our reality. Although rainforest fires are common during the dry season, this year they are spreading out of control. Brazil, the location of over half of the Amazon rainforest, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of fires from last year. According to data from the National Institute for Space Research, the number of fires has seen a 76% increase on the same period in 2018.
The fires impact the area, and the planet, in many ways, including not naturally recovering from fire. The Amazon rainforest plays a vital role in regulating global warming by absorbing millions of tonnes of carbon each year. According to Erika Berenguer, a scientist at the Oxford Environmental Change Institute, a single large tree might store three to four tons of carbon. When the trees burn down, the carbon is released back into the atmosphere, where it contributes to global warming.
Although the Amazon may seem very far away and the fires entirely out of your hands, there is still plenty you can do to help! The following are a few ways you can reduce some of the contributing factors and protect the rainforest.
Purchase products that are Rainforest Safe.
Plenty of materials we use on a day-to-day basis require components from the rainforest. Whether they are food substances such as chocolate, bananas, and coffee, or paper and other wood products, each item can take a toll on the already-strained rainforest resources. Check to make sure everything you buy is labeled with a Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal. Also, consider purchasing products made of recycled materials.
Slow down your beef consumption.
Many times the forest fires are not started by natural causes, but by people looking to clear land for their cattle. Farmers cut down trees, and then light the remains on fire. Unfortunately, these fires can spread quickly. By eating fewer beef products, you’ll reduce the demand for cattle. Cows are also responsible for producing a high percentage of methane, so eating less beef will be a double win.
Keep learning more and educate others.
One of the easiest things you can do to help is to stay in the know. Make it your goal to keep learning about the importance of the Amazon and how we can support it. Share what you learn with others, too. Spreading awareness will help create a ripple effect. If we all work together, we can protect the Amazon from further damage by forest fires.