Fires Ablaze in the Amazon

With temperatures around the world reaching a new high, record-breaking heat waves erupt around the world, causing wildfires to break out, including in both the U.S. and Brazil.

Zoe Bell and Emma DiCoio

With temperatures around the world reaching a new high, record-breaking heat waves erupt around the world, causing wildfires to break out, including in both the U.S. and Brazil. Eliza Bell, a freshman, comments on the California wildfires occurring today.

“Seeing the piles of ash and opening my window to smell the smoke has been just as sad even after we’ve experienced these fires multiple times in California,” said Bell.

Similar to the crisis California is facing with fires blazing across thousands of acres of dried land, Brazil is suffering its own catastrophic raging fires over the precious Amazonia landscape. With locals complaining about ineffective and nonexistent environmental policies, Dom Phillips from The Guardian reports that the Brazilian government has been under pressure to recognize the 17% rise in fires during this year’s fire season in relation to the 34% increase in deforestation from August 2019 to July 2020. Due to the commercial uses of land, the Amazon increasingly continues to face destruction and abuse without government recognition or action as both the President and Environmental Minister have turned a blind eye to the problem and even sought to reduce some environmental restrictions.
When asked about the Brazil fires, Bell shares her thoughts.

“I feel really bad for the people who have lost their homes and imagining that is depressing; it makes me sad thinking about the wildlife that’s also been damaged and lost,” said Bell.

As scientists worry about the climate crisis, the fires in Brazil only cause more concern. The damage only grows larger and larger, and with this destruction, the issue of climate change and its role has also caught the public’s concern. Unlike the Redwoods in Northern California, which have thick bark that helps protect them from fires, the trees in the Amazon have thin bark, leading to greater damage and more rapid spread. With millions of trees purposely burning and releasing high amounts of carbon dioxide, these emissions, in turn, speed up the natural process and cause global warming to worsen.

More concerns present themselves in terms of the habitats the fires are destroying as well. In a CNN article by Eduardo Duwe, Marcia Reverdosa, and Rodrigo Pedroso, a family who has been on track to restoring the blue macaw has been losing hope due to new habitat loss. “A Brazilian sanctuary, home to 15% of the world’s population of blue macaws, [has] been consumed by fires,” the article stated. The Amazon is the largest wetland and one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth, so the destruction of this forest is a huge step backward in conserving habitats for endangered species. Athena Koehler, a senior and an upcoming marine biologist, shares her concern for the biodiversity impacted by these fires.

“Personally, as a future scientist, I am very concerned with the current climate change occurring in our world. Every aspect of our ecosystem is connected in a certain way, and with the rise in pollution in our planet part of these ecosystems are dying, leading to their eventual collapse. It is not only bad for this one ecosystem [The Amazon]; it is affecting all of them. In our world, everything is connected, and destroying small parts of it now will destroy the future livelihood for the Earth and everything that inhibits it,” said Koehler.

The Amazon is a vital resource for oxygen and balance in the world’s ecosystem, and it is an alarming deal that Brazil’s government has chosen to disregard the threats to the land. With the President and Environmental Minister refusing to enact better environmental policies, the youth and local Brazilian communities have taken it upon themselves to fight for change and spread awareness of the raging fires ravaging their forest.