Amazon forest fire - cause, consequences and what we can do about it

Devastating fires have raged in the Amazonas for days and the drought continues to spread the flames uncontrollable. About a political power struggle and the power of social media

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Amazon forest fire 2019

Brazil's Amazon Rainforest has been hit by violent forest fires in the past three weeks. According to INPE, the Brazilian Space Research Institute, the number of forest fires has increased by 2018% since 83. Surrounding states have now imposed a state of emergency because of severe environmental degradation.

What are the causes of the Amazon forest fire

The causes of forest fires are often due to land use practices and climate change as the main cause. The majority of forest fires are caused by humans and their irresponsible use of nature. Global warming provides the breeding ground for this, bearing in mind that July 2019 was the hottest month in history. As a cause of fire for the forest fires in the Amazon, especially arson and illegal clearing are suspected. The development of the Amazon is part of the supposed success program of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Since taking office, he has not only released large areas for deforestation, he also weakened the influence of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Anyone who illegally cuts down a piece of land and converts it into a usable area for agriculture, even has great chances to win the land later. In this context, more than 2019 fires in the Amazon rainforest were registered in 70.000.

Even the near-completion so-called "Cars for Cows" deal is now heavily criticized. It is the world's largest trade agreement between the EU and the states of Mercosur, ie Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. With the aim to reduce import tariffs for soy and beef and in turn to open Latin American markets for western products such as cars. Now, the voices are increasing for a stop to the agreement.

Satellite images of NASA show the extent of the fires

For a long time, Jair Bolsonaro had appeased international concerns about the fires. But in the social media, the pictures spread rapidly. The forest fires are even visible from space. The satellite image published by NASA has been shared millions of times.

NASA Amazon fire

Nasa Fire Detection Brazil August 15 - 22, 2019, source: Nasa Earth Observatory

At the latest after French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted the statement "Burning Our House" and at the same time demanded the issue at the top of the agenda of the G7 summit, Bolsonaro responded publicly.

However, the appeal of France meets with great resentment among the Brazilians. To discuss the issue without the presence of affected countries, would correspond to the colonial mentality.

Since Friday, the Brazilian army is now working to contain the fire. President Bolsonaro responded with a special meeting of his cabinet. However, it is questionable to what extent Brazil has the means to fight the fire on its own.

What are the consequences

"Burn our lungs," is what is often said in the media. The reason for this is that the Amazon Rainforest is called the "green lung" of the earth. The huge forest removes carbon dioxide from the air and converts it into oxygen. The Amazon thus ensures a global balance of the climate.

According to the Amazon Aid Foundation about 25% of the medicine we consume in the Western world comes from plants in the Amazon. However, fewer than 5% of the plants in this region have actually been studied by scientists. This means that the burning of the Amazon will also eradicate a huge and untapped medical potential. For the thousands of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and bird species that live in the rainforest, these forest fires will not only have immediate but also long-term consequences.

Through every tree burnt, huge amounts of stored carbon dioxide escapes into the atmosphere. The consequences can be seen in the dark sky of São Paulo. Black clouds have been lying over the 2500 kilometers distant metropolis for days. The magnitude of the fires is already a threat to the global climate. The country on the ground is facing devastating consequences.

Support with environmental organizations

Bei Greenpeace, WWF, Rainforest Alliance, Amazon Aid Foundation and Rainforest Action Network, there are possibilities to support the fight against fires. Many stars also respond with concern and draw attention to helping organizations. An ethically conscious & sustainable lifestyle also helps to make its individual positive impact.

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