The Amazon Rainforest, known as the largest tropical rainforest in South America, home to millions of different species, is currently burning at rapid speeds.
Brazil holds approximately 60 percent of the Amazon within its borders. Since the 20th century Brazil’s rapid growing population has caused deforestation and clearance for farmland and homes.
The burning of the forest will clear trees to make way for agriculture, which will provide the surrounding areas and world with more crops, food and resources. However, burning this rainforest is already causing issues. The Amazon serves as an ecosystem that filters and reprocesses the carbon dioxide that is in the air. Without rainforests the greenhouse effect and climate change would worsen in the future.
The rainforest still holds more than half of undiscovered plants, species, and flowers that have still not been studied. With the loss of the rainforest, scientists lose natural roots that are used to create cures.
At the end of 2018 fires created to burn the rainforest were roughly between 0.1- 0.2 percent. Since the start of 2019 75,000 fires have occurred in the Amazon. Some websites state that the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsanaro, has been very encouraging of the burning of the Amazon to make space for more farmland.
Jair Bolsanaro isn’t the only one to blame. The president’s predecessor, Michel Temer, has downgraded a ministry that was used to focus on sustainable farms and environmental protections. According to Time, In 2017 Temer cut the federal science budget by 44% and also cut nearly the same amount from the discretionary budget of IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency.
From 2017 to 2019, Temer continued to make cuts to the IBAMA budget by 24%. With these constant cuts, IBAMA is left without enough to fund their environmental efforts. Doing so can lead to more natural disasters, especially fires, to become out of control.
Bolsanaro made a speech for “zero tolerance” on environmental crimes, to cope with the forest fires. He also made note that he would not be pulling his support from large scale farming in the region and expanding mining operations.
Many outsiders and environmental activists, however, oppose the burning of the Amazon. In an Interview provided by National Geographic, Ane Alencar, the director of science at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, talked about how they had decreased deforestation by 65% in the past. She goes on to mention, “We proved that we could do that. And now we’re going backwards.”
Between the months of June and December it’s known as “burning season,” according to the National Geographic. In these months the southern basin of the Amazon dries out and raises concerns about fires being started. Although most of the fires are caused by human activity due to clearing for land, the Amazon is still at risk for natural fires.
The burning of trees aren’t the only thing that is affecting this rainforest. Climate change is also greatly affecting it as well. With droughts from lack of rain and normal weather patterns, some parts have now turned into a desert.
With global climate change and the increasing deforestation over time, the increased temperatures will change the rain patterns in the Amazon. These changes will impact biodiversity, human health, water availability, and the region’s forests.
Soil moisture levels have dropped severely since 2008. Scientists believe the rainforest and Savannahs will reach a point of no return, if deforestation continues at the rapid speed it is going through now.