Amazon burning | 6 ways to help the Amazon rainforest right now
Why is the Amazon worth protecting?
Spanning a whopping 9 countries across South America, the Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Famous for its rich ecosystems, untouched communities and (sadly sought-after) natural resources, this ecological wonderland is home to 10% of recorded species, despite only covering around one percent of the earth’s surface- bonkers! For us here at Rickshaw, the Amazon is home to some of our most-loved community experiences and wildlife encounters, from caimans and pirañas to sloths and toucans.
More significantly, however, is the role that the Amazon plays in helping us combat the climate change crisis. It’s often referred to as our planet’s “green lungs” which is a pretty fitting nickname considering the rainforest absorbs 14% of all atmospheric CO2 emissions.
But this week our hearts have broken as we watch fires rage through the rainforest at an alarming rate, destroying vital habitats and plunging cities into darkness. This is devastating and, like many others, has left us feeling helpless. Afterall, the Amazon is supposed to absorb carbon emissions, not produce them.
Why is the Amazon burning?
Deforestation is the number one threat to the Amazon right now, with 17% of the forest disappearing in the last 50 years (WWF). Much of this loss is due to the clear-cutting of trees and land in order to create space for cattle farming and oil palm plantations. As part of this deforestation process, fire is often used as a way of clearing space and burning waste. But not only do these fires threaten the delicate ecosystems that thrive here, but it means that dangerous levels of CO2 are emitted. This, in turn, has a knock on effect on rising temperatures which impacts the whole planet as we face rapidly changing weather conditions.
According to WWF, over 70,000 fires have been recorded in the Amazon this year alone – 85% more fires than were seen last year. “Land is cleared and prepared for agriculture through fires, but not normally at this intensity.” (WWF)
What can we do to help?
We know that the health of our planet depends so much upon the health of the Amazon rainforest, which makes the footage of the fires all the most difficult to watch. But we can make a difference. Granted, we might not be able to pour bucket-loads of water over the flames ourselves, but if you’re feeling hopeless and want to do your bit to help protect this magnificent rainforest (now and in the future) here are some practical tips:
1. Spread the word
Right now, the world is waking up to the devastating impact of deforestation. Since the blaze hit headlines this week, many have questioned the level of coverage this news has received. In response, numerous hashtags have started trending, including #savetheamazon and #prayforamazonia. Let’s keep the momentum going by sharing information and action with our friends and family. The more we can inform eachother and unite together, the louder our voices will be to help influence urgent change.
2. Support emergency services & communities in need
Though the fires are raging thousands of miles away, there’s a lot we can do from the comfort of our homes. By donating to emergency appeals (such as WWF), you can support local services in reaching affected communities, supporting emergency relief to those in need, raising awareness and advocating for stronger laws.
Donate to the Amazon emergency appeal to help support the community services reduce fires and offer relief where needed.
3. Sign a petition
Just because you don’t live in Brazil doesn’t mean your voice can’t be heard. Why not join the rest of the world in telling the Brazilian government to save the Amazon Rainforest. Both WWF and Greenpeace (amongst others) have launched petitions to help influence immediate action. If you want to help make an impact, share your signature.
Call upon the UK government to put the Amazon emergency on to the top of the G7 agenda.
4. Help safeguard the rainforest
Organisations such as Rainforest Action Network and the Rainforest Trust work tirelessly to raise awareness about protecting the world’s natural resources. If you’re concerned about the future of the rainforest and want to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands, why not opt to protect an acre of rainforest with RAN or make a contribution with Rainforest Trust towards buying land to aid the forest’s conservation?
5. Reduce your paper consumption
Mass scale unsustainable wood and paper consumption spells danger for our precious rainforests. Organisations like Rainforest Alliance have plenty of information, following certified standards and can help you check if products you buy are sustainable. If you work in an office, use your voice and knowledge to affect change in company policy and chosen suppliers.
6. Switch to Ecosia
Ecosia is a totally genius invention. Based in Europe, it is a search engine with a responsible twist; as a carbon-negative organisation, Ecosia promises to plant one tree for every 45 searches you make. Switching search engines may seem like a small step, but it can go a long way in supporting reforestation and sustainability in our everyday lives. First, click here to install it. Then, give yourself a massive pat on the back. Oh and don’t forget to tell your mates, mum and next-door neighbour.
Boycott companies that import cheap rainforest beef
Chances are you don’t consume Brazilian beef in your everyday diet. But if you do, swap it out for more sustainable alternatives. Rainforest beef is typically found in fast-food burgers or processed beef, and most of the soy produced in Brazil is fed back to livestock. So reducing your beef consumption overall is a pretty good idea. If your curious about which companies to avoid, you can read more here.