When the Amazon Burns Were Toast

November 15, 2019

If you weren't enraged or frightened when the Amazon was on fire towards the start of the school year, then things are about to get real. The Amazon Rainforest in South America accounts for half of the world's rainforest (1.4 billion acres) and has thousands of freshwater streams that provide water for many villages and cities. Just imagine that your water becomes undrinkable and polluted and plastic water bottles aren't an option either because you live in a small community that doesn’t have one of our typical grocery stores. How would you cook ramen, hydrate yourself, or bathe properly? Losing this forest will evidently impact us all, but first it will hurt those living off of the forest. Not to mention that every acre of forest burned is cultures being burnt to a crisp.

People's way of life and even the people themselves are being pushed away from their home. These cultures carry years of traditions and celebrations that once gone, can't be brought back to life.

One of the main reasons the Amazon is being burned is so that ranchers can make room for their cattle. When the trees are replaced with cows, you lose a place to store carbon and you increase methane production. Methane is fourteen times more damaging to our environment than carbon is. “Eating less meat is a simple thing that any high school student could do, it would have impacts that would ripple out into the local market. Every time that you order a cheeseburger you're taking a vote for meat, whereas if you order a veggie burger then restaurants will order less beef patties, and less cattle will be raised as a result of that,” Cody Shepard, La Follette's earth science teacher, said. Creating an impact can be as simple as having one vegetarian meal a week.

The amazon is also largely undiscovered, and therefore humans aren't aware of all the healing plants that it may have. The red lapacho tree is very beneficial to those going through chemotherapy as it helps alleviate some of the pain. Tawari tree bark is useful in treating cancerous cells and inflammation. Cordoncillo is a natural numbing plant, which can have many first aid benefits, and also helps alleviate pain to native people as well as smaller communities.

The large canopies of trees, and the luscious plants on the ground help keep the environment damp. Water does a pretty good job of putting out fires. Although with the continued clearing of the rainforest being done, there are more parts that do not have the “rain” part of the forest. This causes more areas to catch on fire after a smaller one is started, evidently leaving us with less forest. The number of fires in Brazil this year is 85% higher than last year. Continual progress to deforestation will result in more fires throughout the years, until the Amazon is gone.

Take for instance the state of Sao Paulo during these fires. At 3 pm, it looked like it was night, but it didn't include the stars or the moon. It may have looked like night but those clouds in the sky weren't a storm brewing, it was smoke from fires roughly 1,553 miles away.

The Amazon makes a huge impact on everyone's lives. Spreading awareness about the issue on social media or by word of mouth can help show global leaders what matters to its citizens.

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