POV: Amazon Rainforest Fires

Katie Eckert

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The Amazon Rainforest is burning. A section of the Brazilian Amazon has been for over three weeks straight after several years of intermittent burning to clear land for farming. It is also a huge carbon sink, responsible for clearing up to two billion tons, which is five percent of all global emissions each year, making it a very valuable resource in reducing and controlling greenhouse gasses. 

The Amazon is undoubtedly essential to our lives, but it is also home to 30 million people, thousands of which are indigenous peoples. The forest also supports ten percent of all known species on Earth. It is vital that the Amazon Rainforest is protected, but that raises a crucial question: what is the best way to protect it?

Over three-quarters of deforestation of the Amazon is for cattle ranching, and Brazil holds about 60 percent of the rainforest. The recent sharp increase in deforestation signals a reversal of a promising decade-long trend. The increase also coincides with the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, a known supporter of agribusiness and a climate skeptic. If demand for meat products were lower, the amount of deforestation might decrease, but targeting administrative change or support could also have a crucial impact on the future of the Amazon. Governmental support of anti-deforestation processes is an almost surefire way to make some impact, but anything an individual can do themselves to help out could be much more immediate and dependable. Which one should be prioritized?

“Both will make a really big impact,” says eighth-grader Isabel Klish. However, she also thinks that governmental support will have the most significant results in terms of preventing future fires and changing the system for the better.

Freshman AJ Brewer agrees that the government needs to play its part. “Their president isn’t really wanting to stop the fires, so we should probably be trying to do something about that.” He does think that people need to do their part in stopping the fires too, but he feels “like it’d be a lot harder to get people on board at the individual level.”

Sixth grader Charlotte Derby feels similarly, saying, “Definitely the government . . . Because I heard somewhere that the president doesn’t care.” However, like Klish, she thinks individuals still have a very important role. “People need to cut down on cutting down the rainforest; it’s a group effort.”

When a problem is as big and has as much potential for disaster as this one, there may be no one right way to fix it, but rather many things that, together, could make a change for the better. After all, everyone has their own idea of how to save the rainforest.

“I think we need to do more of just helping other people realize how big of a problem this is,” says Brewer, who adds that “getting . . . supplies for stopping the fire” is also important.

“If the government did something to help promote people to make a change in lifestyle or setting laws and regulations to help the way people are farming right now, I think that would definitely help,” Klish adds.

Ultimately, everyone has to decide for themselves whether they are going to do something to save the Amazon Rainforest or not. Seabury students may not be able to take governmental action for the cause, but donating money, being conscious about your diet and the environment and especially raising awareness are only a handful of ways to help fix the problem.