Worldwide panic escalates as fires scorch the Amazon


Michael Dantas

The Amazon in flames due to slash-and-burn agriculture.

Laura Nowicki, Managing Editor

The Amazon Rainforest, commonly known as “the lungs of the Earth”, is at risk of taking its final breath within a century.

The 2.1 million square mile rainforest has been ablaze for decades during dry seasons, setting fire to thousands of square miles of lush plant and animal life yearly. However, this year’s fires are approaching a point of no return, news that is devastating for the future of the planet. “Like global warming, fires can snowball and become incredibly hard to recover from,” explained Robert Vosk, a biology teacher at Milford. “If the fires make the rainforest dwindle incredibly far from their starting point, it can become too difficult to reestablish.”

The fires that are plaguing the future of the Amazon began due to slash-and-burn techniques used by Brazilian farmers and ranchers. “Most of the burning has originated from the desire to have grasslands for cows to graze that they can later slaughter in order to sell beef to America,” explained Stephanie Crow, an environmental science teacher at Milford. “The culprits for the fires are not only the Brazilian government but the countries that desire a high amount of beef products.”

Despite the reasoning behind the fires, Brazil’s government has become a worldwide target. An ongoing feud between French President Emmanuel Macron and Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil, has recently erupted once again after Bolsonaro insulted Macron’s wife. Because of this, Bolsonaro has stated that until he receives an apology from Macron, he will not accept any international money to help fight the fires, which includes a donation of $22.2 million from the G7, which includes the United States.

Though the Amazon has slowly been engulfed in flames for years on end, the epidemic has only begun to get public attention, starting in early August when it quickly became a social media trend. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok, swarms of users have asked the same question: why hasn’t this gotten more attention? “We live in a world where environmental concerns aren’t always the primary focus,” said Crow.

Today, the world is faced with an overwhelming amount of global issues, many that never make the front page or get any recognition whatsoever. “We are so used to living in a society with immediate information, impact, and results,” began Michelle Cascadden, a Milford biology teacher. “People aren’t realizing the importance of the fires because the consequences are not immediate.”

As the Amazon continues to burn, not only the rainforest itself is in jeopardy, but every living being that inhabits it, including an incredibly diverse variety of plants and animals and innocent indigenous groups. “People don’t understand just how intertwined ecosystems are,” illustrates Cascadden. “When one section is affected, there is a ripple effect and the entire world will be impacted. There are so many species in the rainforest that we haven’t discovered, and we have no idea what medical attributes that the plants could have in disease treatment. If the rainforest is destroyed, we have no opportunity to find out.”

Evidently, the Amazon epidemic is inducing worldwide alarm, however, little is being done in an effort to resolve the issue. Some celebrities and national icons have done their part in bringing attention, but have put in little to no effort in telling their fans how to combat this problem or donating to the cause themselves. This includes To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before star Noah Centineo, who told his 17.7 million Instagram followers to “visualize rain pouring out of clouds onto the fires in the Amazon.” Though bringing attention toward the tragedy is beneficial, it isn’t enough to make a concrete impact.

Compared to other national issues and tragedies, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Amazon Rainforest trumps the competition in importance. “Tragedies such as Notre Dame are terrible, however, the Amazon fires affect the world as a whole,” said Vosk. “Billions were raised for the cathedral in a matter of days, yet donations in the low millions have been raised for the Amazon in the past month.”

With the Amazon’s lack of coverage and little action taking place in order to reach a resolution, the public is being left in the dark. However, in reality, anyone can make an impact despite the distance. Donations can be made to Rainforest Trust, a non-profit organization that works to save threatened rainforest habitat and wildlife.

Promoting change can also come in different forms, such as writing to Congress, asking them to put pressure on the Brazilian government to take action and end the crisis for good. Fires in the Amazon are up by 85 percent this year; if we want the planet to thrive, ignorance is not an option. “We have the luxury of learning about the world, and people need to know what they can do to stop what is happening,” explained Crow. “After all, you cannot recreate a rainforest.”