THE Amazon rainforest is burning and it is a global concern.
These past few days, the hashtag #PrayforAmazonas trended worldwide while numerous articles, photos, and videos of the raging forest fires in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil circulated online.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, a federal agency monitoring deforestation and wildfires, has recorded almost 74,155 wildfires from January this year as of Tuesday, an 84% increase from 2018 and the highest number on record since 2013.
But what caused the fire?
According to a BBC report, forest fires commonly occur in the Amazon during the dry season, which runs from July to October, caused by naturally occurring events, such as by lightning strikes.
However, in an Associated Press article, co-founder of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute said while natural fires in the Amazon happen, majority are still human-induced. In a separate article published on CNN website, INPE senior scientist Alberto Setzer shared 99 percent of the fires result from human actions “either on purpose or by accident,” mostly due to agricultural practice, and deforestation for a mechanized and modern agribusiness project.
But the Amazon fire has also become a political issue with Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, saying that non-governmental organizations could be setting them to make shady the government’s image after people are accusing him of lack of action and of encouraging logging and farming in the Amazon. But he cites no evidence to support the claim.
Dubbed as the “lungs of the planet”, Amazon’s rainforest generates more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen and 10 percent of the world’s known biodiversity. It is also home to some 1 million Indigenous People. This established, drastic damage to the Amazon goes beyond Brazil. If the fires continue, climate change will worsen.
With the issue now in the global eye, may this put more pressure not only to Brazil’s government but all countries – including the Philippines - to take the greener path in facing development. May this also be a call to environment groups to strengthen their advocacy and to actually work for the environment, not just bark whenever they see an opportunity to elevate their own interests.
In the midst of the global climate crisis, further damage to the planet’s major source of oxygen and biodiversity is a step backward to earth’s protection. The Amazon must be protected, not just by the Brazilians but by all human beings.