The Truth About The Amazon Fires
The fires of the amazon rainforest are global news. And there are important reasons why.
Unknown to most of us, the rainforest is one of the fundamental pillars for our existence on this planet. It not only contains one of the biggest diversity of plant and animal species, it also is one of the biggest sink for carbon dioxide and therefore prevents global warming.
Nonetheless the total area of the Amazon rainforest has met an all-time low in 2019. But why?
In this video you’ll learn the truth about the amazon rainforest fires. The most important facts, figures and stories about the amazon rainforest and why the fires that you’ve seen in 2019 are life-threating dangerous, and unusual.
We humans are fascinating beings interwoven in a huge well-oiled machine that we call planet earth.
We animals inhale oxygen and we exhale carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide, our waste product, is the breathing fundament for plants. Then again the existence of plants is our food, or in some cases the fundament for the food, that we eat.
Once we’ve eaten plants, that thrive on our carbon dioxide, we then secrete poop. Poop, the waste products of animals, is then used by plants as their food, so this big cycle on living on this planet can start over again.
A huge part of this functioning cycle of animal and plant species on our planet earth is the Amazon rainforest.
It covers over 2.7 million square miles in South America and represents more than 50% of all the rainforest on this planet. The Amazon rainforest has been in existence since 55 million years.
Because of the high rain-fall, the lack of humans and the jungle atmosphere, the region is a perfect breeding ground for various plant and animal species. It is home to about 2.5 million insect, tens of thousands of plants, and some 2,000 birds and mammals species.
The rainforest also takes up 25% of all global carbon dioxide emissions and is a huge protection to global warming.
1. The entire forest will also be a desert in less than 80 years.
In the year of 2018 17% of the amazon rainforest was already destroyed. Researchers agree that the point of no return in the forest destruction is found at about 20-25% deforestation.
Which means last year we were only 3 – 8% away from irrevocably turning one the biggest protection against global warming into a huge pile of ash and sand.
But this wasn’t always the case. Before the 1960s the Amazon deforestation was close to 0%.
In the 1960s farmers introduced a new farming method, called “slash and burn”.
First the business owners are cutting down all the trees. The downed vegetation, or “slash”, is then left to dry, usually right before the rainiest part of the year.
Then, the entire area is burned, resulting in a layer of ash which makes the soil fertile, as well as temporarily eliminating weed and pest species. After about three to five years, the soil productivity decreases due to depletion of nutrients along with weed and pest invasion, causing the farmers to abandon the field and move over to a new area.
This practice of slash and burn has reached an all-time high in 2019. A total of 72’000 fires have erupted this year, with more than 40’000 of those in the amazon region. Erupted is probably the wrong word, as 99% of those wildfire are either caused accidentally or purposefully by humans. And by humans one means farmers.
It’s a well-known fact that more than 90% of the burned land since 1970 has been used for animal farming.
2. At least 90% of the wildfires and the Amazonian deforestation that we’ve seen in the last 50 years were caused because of our food choices.
On the tenth of august, just one day before Amazonas has decleared a state of emergency, local farmers called for a “queimada”, which means “a day of fire” – a mass scale burn operation of the forest without fear of prosecution by the government.
Those farmers are not evil, they’re simply looking to increase economic output and profits by maximizing their farming land – and since the beginning of this year they face little to no restrictions in doing so.
The main reason is Jair Bolsonaro. He’s the 38th president of that South American country and is called the “Trump of the Tropics”. His claim to fame is “Brazil first”.
President Bolsonaro is also a right-wing conservative being an opponent of homosexuality, abortion, helping of minorities, atheism and drugs. His governmental choices are always pro economic and pro market.
The Washington Post states that “Bolsonaro is a powerful supporter of agribusiness […] and is likely to favor profits over preservation.”
And indeed, he did. The Brazilian president reduced regulations and cut the budget of environmental organizations to increase economic output.
This is good – and bad. See economic output of a country is always a double-edged sword. On one hand it decreases the level of poverty and unemployment. Economic growth also increases the global trust of investors in that country, which makes Brazil more competitive and will likely increase the living standard of the population.
Between 1970 and 1995, the rural per capita income in the Brazilian amazon regions has increased from $410 dollars to $1,417 dollars. The income has increased the most in regions with the highest deforestation rates.
While this sounds great, the problem about economic output is that it’s unsustainable. A better economy can go along with a destruction of the planet by the production of waste and the speeding up of climate change.
That’s the reason why some presidents are climate change deniers, not because of stupidity, but because of economic reasons.
The best way to understand politics is to understand people, as countries are always run by people. The longest term a Brazilian president can serve in office is 8 years, these 8 years are usually the only thing that they’re concerned about.
3. While the policies of Bolsonaro might be Brazil first in the short-term, they’re most likely planet end in the long-term.
Conclusion – The Truth About The Amazon Forest Fires:
The Amazon rainforest deforestation rate is very close to the point of no return. Instead of a slowing down of the wildfires, the incidence rates have nearly doubled this year compared to last year.
If we consider the facts and statistics, it’s almost guaranteed that the Amazonian rainforest will turn into the Amazon desert in our lifetime.
The main reason the rainforest is getting chopped down is the farming of animals, which increases the economic prosperity of a country, but decreases the survival of our planet.
The only way we could possibly prevent the South American desert is with a rapid global restructuring of our food production and consumption. Go vegan.
Stats Amazon: https://www.worldwildlife.org/places/amazon
Species Amazon: Da Silva; Jose Maria Cardoso; et al. (2005). “The Fate of the Amazonian Areas of Endemism”. Conservation Biology.
Amazon takes up 25% of carbon dioxide: http://ir.ibcas.ac.cn/handle/2S10CLM1/13179
Amazon desert in 2100: https://www.nature.com/articles/35041539
Deforestation before 1960s: http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2006/Futures-Amazon.pdf
Slash and Burn method in the Amazon forest: Watkins and Griffiths, J. (2000). Forest Destruction and Sustainable Agriculture in the Brazilian Amazon: a Literature Review (Doctoral dissertation, The University of Reading, 2000)
72’000 fires this year: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazon-wildfire-parts-of-amazon-rainforest-on-fire-smoke-seen-from-space-2019-08-20/
Washington Post Jair Bolsonaro: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/10/28/critics-are-afraid-jair-bolsonaro-heres-where-he-stands-issues/?noredirect=on
Meat and Amazon Fires: https://www.vice.com/en_in/article/bjwzk4/feeling-sad-about-the-amazon-fires-stop-eating-meat
More stats about the rainforest: Morley, Robert J. (2000). Origin and Evolution of Tropical Rain Fore
Economy and deforestation (The World Bank Paper) : https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/24ac/f1a9fbc873adb994b57191a6c29c4ba60ba9.pdf