The Fires in the Amazon

Margaret Kepler ‘23, Staff Writer

On August 22, 2019, in the countries of Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay, thousands of wildfires were incited, destroying trees of the Amazon Rainforest. An additional 1.4 billion acres of forest and 2.6 million square miles in the Amazon basin are currently at risk of burning down. During the dry season, wildfires can be very common, but never for this amount of time and in such mass quantities. Usually during these times, the rain controls the fire and eventually the fire stops. However, a lot of rain in the Amazon Rainforest is created by the rainforest itself, and when it’s burning, it can’t create as much rain as it could before. And this too could be a hazard to more fires starting because of the dryness of the forest. 

Because of how much plant and tree life the Amazon Rainforest contains, it absorbs millions of tons of carbon emissions and creates 20% of the Earth’s oxygen. The Amazon also makes up about 50% of the tropical rainforests in the world. The rainforests also help to keep the Earth’s temperatures steady. Since January 2019, there have been 73,000+ fires in the Amazon. But this ecosystem is not only important to us and the environment; the Amazonia is also home to many animal species and creatures with 1/10 known species living in the Amazon. 

But how did the Amazon catch on fire? Brazil’s environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, said that these fires were caused by wind, heat, and dry weather. However, many people and meteorologists beg to differ and say that it was definitely caused by humans and could not stem from natural causes. For years and years, numerous farmers and ranchers have used fires to clear land for their crops and animals, which is what most people believe started the fire.

The effects of the rainforest fire are devastating. The rainforest creates much of the world’s oxygen, helps to stabilize global temperatures, and is home to a huge number of animal, avian, and insect species. The impact of the fire is felt both on a local and on a global scale. This is an issue that we should all be aware of and help to solve.