The Amazon wildfires: Five things you can do to help
Thousands of fires are burning throughout the Amazon rainforest. Since August 15, upwards of 9,500 new fires have started burning, laying waste to the area that produces 20% of the Earth’s oxygen, aptly called the “lungs of the planet.”
Typically, in Brazil, wildfires happen in the dry season which runs from July to October, with both farmers and loggers setting the fires themselves to clear the land for their use. But, there has been an 84% increase between the number of fires this year and last year, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research.
Especially if you’re far away from Brazil, it’s easy to feel helpless in situations like these. Particularly, since what’s currently happening in the Amazon can’t be stopped or undone. But, there are lots of things you can do to help prevent more fires from starting, and conserve what’s left of the rainforest. Read on to find out what you can do right now.
Find posts from reputable sources, like the the Rainforest Alliance and the WWF, and re-share them on your social channels. Awareness is one of the most important things when something like this happens. We need to continue to the conversation so people in positions of power will take it seriously.
Sign a petition
Petitions work, and you can easily be a part of the larger change they can cause. A lawyer who lives in Rio Branco, in the heart of the Amazon, already has almost 400,000 signatures on his Change.org petition which is calling for an inquiry into the origins of the fires, and Green Peace has one calling on the Brazilian government to do more to conserve the rainforest.
Organisations like the Amazon Conservation Team and the Rainforest Action Team are accepting donations to help them preserve and protect the rainforest. Even if you can only spare something small, every little bit helps the biodiversity of the area and the people who call it home.
Support the organisations doing their part
If you’re a consumer, ask questions of the brands you interact with. Are they doing their part to conserve energy, produce less waste and reduce their impact on the planet? You have power as a consumer. If you’re a business owner, focus on working with businesses who are committed to zero-carbon standards. According to Foreign Policy, trade that relies on protecting rainforests and sustainability will help the planet, and in turn, protect the rainforest.
Reduce your carbon footprint
It’s never a bad idea to think about how your own consumption affects the planet, and particular choices can specifically help limit the amount of stress put on the Amazon. Reduce your paper and wood consumption, because producing those products contributes to deforestation. Cattle and soybean farming also have an impact, and of course, so does palm oil. Reduce your intake of all of these, or avoid them all together if you can.
Photo courtesy of Cristina Mittermeier.
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Written by - Tara MacInnis