Burning Biome


Caroline Carter, Staff Writer

For over three weeks now, the Amazon has been ablaze. Since the rainforest is an essential biome to Earth, many consider this ecosystem as the lungs of the planet. The Amazon’s dry season usually runs from August to November, but Brazil has 85% more fires burning compared to this time last year. For most of its existence, the rainforest was fundamentally fire-proof due to its natural moisture, but deforestation and human activities have made it vulnerable. If this doesn’t open our eyes to the reality of the climate crisis, nothing will.

Rosana Villar of Greenpeace says, “This is not just a forest that is burning. This is almost a cemetery. Because all you can see is death.” According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, 6,436 fires have burned in the Brazilian state of Rondonia in this year alone. NASA determined that Rodonia has become one of the most deforested states within the Amazon. On Friday August 23, President Jair Bolsanaro promised to send 43,000 troops to fight the flames, but there was no sign of additional military presence the following Sunday. 

The growing global market for beef has urged the deforestation process. Some regions of the rainforest have been transformed into farmland, so cows can graze to be used later for beef production. Bolsanaro claims the fires are nothing to worry about, for they are a normal part of the annual dry season. Many critics observed that a government policy encourages deforestation, giving uninformed farmers the green light to burn, and these land clearings only catalyze the flames. 

A horrific cycle has already begun within the Amazon. The more land that is cleared causes less moisture held beneath the forest’s canopy, drying out the land. The drier the land becomes, the more vulnerable it is to fire. The real question is when do the effects of this cycle become permanent. 

Villar from Greenpeace says, “The Amazon is extremely fundamental for the water system all over the continent. So if we cut off the forest we are some years not going to have rain on the south of the country.”

Many are afraid of the burning Amazon and what it could mean for the rest of the planet. Some suspect this, along with the melting glaciers, are warnings of how climate change will alter Earth. Others are more extreme, believing that these are signs of Earth’s impending doom. As middle-class, average-Joe-type people, we can’t do much to help the Amazon and climate change directly, but we can make smaller changes. We can reduce beef, oil, paper, and wood production, hold larger businesses accountable, and demand climate solutions in the next election. The question is not whether or not the earth is dying, it’s how we can help prolong its lifespan.


Works Cited
Gallon, Natalie. Paton, Nick. “‘All you can see is death.’ The regions reeling from the Amazon rainforest fires.” CNN, Published 26 August 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/25/americas/amazon-fire-efforts-damage/index.htmlAccessed 26 August 2019.
“Top 10 things you can do to about climate change.” David Suzuki Foundation, Published 3 July 2019 https://davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/top-10-ways-can-stop-climate-change/.