The Earth’s lungs are on fire, and its air passages are choking. As Brazil’s Amazonian Rainforest crumbles towards what could be an imminent doom, here’s why you should be worried even if you live on the other side of this decaying planet. By Bayar Jain
Drowning in thick black smog and crumbling in red hot fumes, Brazil’s Amazonian Rainforest has been gasping for breath and screaming for a chance of survival. Environmentalists have declared it a global emergency, and governments (such as the French government) have called it an ‘international crises’. But it’s happening on another part of the world, how does it matter, right? That’s where you’re wrong. Living oceans away from the continent doesn’t make us immune to the consequences of the calamity. Before understanding how each one of us is in danger, here’s a quick lowdown:
Since August 15, 2019, it is believed that over 9,500 forest fires broke out across Brazil, primarily in the Amazon Rainforest. In 2019 alone, this number was recorded out at 74,000 forest fires. This is almost twice that of 2018, a number which was considered alarming in itself. Some believe that the fires are a result of local farmers who set parts of the land ablaze to make room for more harvest, others believe this is the doing of private corporates to pave way for development. Irrespective of the cause, the fire’s direct consequences have already started showing in parts of neighbouring countries like Bolivia and Paraguay where dark clouds started to appear. The effect has been so drastic that São Paulo, a city close to 2,500-kms away from the forest, plunged into darkness in the middle of the day!
However, just the South American subcontinent is not under danger. While immediate consequences may not be visible, the entire world will face the wrath of the forest eventually. The Amazon rainforest is also known as ‘The Lungs of the World’. This is because it produces nearly 20% of the Earth’s oxygen, while also absorbing almost the same amount of carbon dioxide as well. The disappearance of the forests would lead to an imbalance in the overall oxygen levels of the entire planet. The burning also results in excessive carbon dioxide emissions, which would lead to increase in atmospheric temperatures. Increasing temperatures spells doom for glaciers as they will begin to melt at a faster pace, resulting in rise in sea levels. India might not be an island nation, but it is predicted that Kerala would be one of the first to drown (along with Maldives) owing to this rise.
At the same time, deforestation would also result in an imbalance in the global weather cycle. This implies that there will be a sharp reduction in rainfall, leading to higher chances of droughts. Ground water levels will be impacted to a large extent. Water, even for day-to-day activities, will become a challenge.
Speaking of water, everyone knows that the world has only 2.2% of freshwater. But did you know that out of this meagre amount, almost 20% of the freshwater resides in the Amazonian Forest? In short, goodbye Amazon = goodbye freshwater.
If this isn’t scary enough, consider the fact that the Amazon is home to a mind-boggling range of species. It is home to more than 40,000 plant species, 1,300 birds, 427 mammals, 378 reptiles, and more than 400 and 3,000 amphibians and freshwater fish, respectively. Thousands, if not more, species are yet to be discovered in this natural wonder. According to the 2013 IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, there are over 118 endangered species that live here, all of which will be threatened to extinction if the rainforest disappears.
Apart from the animals that seek refuge here, around 3 million people also take shelter in this safe haven, 2.7 million of which belong to indigenous communities. These people, too, will end up losing their homes and livelihoods.
The Amazon Rainforest has survived for millions of years. Thanks to us, it could be dying in the next couple of years. The forest is fuming, and its going to take us with it one way or another. Our best bet? Stop it before its too late and do more than just #PrayForAmazonia.