Yesterday, I saw for the first time, a post on social media about the Amazon Rainforest fires. It was competing for attention with some crap to do with Sony and Spiderman and Disney. You know. The important stuff.
Once social media picked it up, it was everywhere – and kudos to the power of social media, by the way. NASA notes that they can see these fires from space. Twice the amount of fires are burning from last year. The fucking rainforest has been burning for three weeks already and none of us outside of Brazil had a clue.
We watched the Notre Dame Cathedral burn in real-time. Millions of dollars poured in for reconstruction. Why? Because it’s “historic.” And don’t get me wrong, I love history, and I think preserving history is important, and I don’t begrudge for one single second the amount of money and care given when this grand historic building burned. But how do you get much more historic than a rainforest? WHERE IS THE MONEY FOR THIS?
What’s At Stake as the Amazon Burns? Hint: Thousands of species, indigenous communities, and the earth’s atmosphere are all at risk.
Okay. The Amazon rainforest is the lungs of the planet. The rainforest in general are – they regulate climate, they produce rainfall, they filter the air. We need them for the air we breathe. We need them to keep us from burning up. We need them to preserve the lives of animals that they are home to.
We need them to live.
What’s worse, is that this is not a typical forest fire situation. Here in British Columbia, we’ve had major fires for the past few years. This year has been better, because the weather has been bizarrely, unseasonably chilly and rainy, at least where I live in the north. BC is home to 25% of the world’s temperate rainforests. These have been fires caused by lightning, by hot dry weather, by human carelessness. At one point last year, or the year before, nearly half of our province was on fire. Our elected government at the time did little to prevent these fires, refusing to budget to clear old, dead wood, for instance – all to balance their budget. But that’s a whole different topic of discussion.
The fires in Brazil are not caused by hot dry weather, they’re not caused by lightning, and they’re not caused by human carelessness. They are set intentionally. The Amazon rainforest does not burn naturally. It is far too damp. These are fires set because of greed and corruption, to clear land for farming, to drive out the indigenous people who live there. It is corporate, and political, and so very wrong.
When the last tree has been cut down,Credited to Cree Indian Saying or Alanis Obomsawin
the last fish caught,
the last river poisoned,
only then will we realize
that one cannot eat money.
I know that I could post sources for all of what I’m saying, and I will if I have to, but honestly any of you can fact check because I’m not interested in that right now.
We have this tendency to click share on a post and feel we’ve done our part. As if awareness alone is useful. Oh, I touched my screen. I clicked share. I’m part of the solution. And then we go on our merry way knowing that we are good people. I thought about this situation a lot since yesterday, and I realize that this is urgent and needs action, and we can’t just click and move on. We can’t afford to do that, we can’t let this continue to happen to this planet, our home.
Don’t just read it and weep, click a button, move on. Don’t just comment how tragic it is, lay blame, inform. Act. Do something.
This morning I spent some time trying to find ways to help from the outside. And I want to list them here, for anyone interested in taking even a small measure to aid in this crisis.
Check out the Rainforest Action Network. Here is their page of suggestions on how to help, which includes information about what’s happening right now. Through RAN you can Protect an Acre, which supports Indigenous peoples and frontline communities to “protect their homes, culture, and heritage, along with the ecosystems and wildlife with whom they share a home.” I have personally chosen to do this.
Included on the RAN page is a link to Amazon Watch. A “nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin.
You can donate to Amazon watch, or you can read through the plethora of information they have posted and learn more about this situation.
NOTE: It has to be stated that the rights of the Indigenous people and these fires are tightly interconnected. Much of the help that is out there is geared toward supporting the Indigenous people who are being burned out of their own land intentionally.
The Rainforest Trust has a number of campaigns that are geared toward the purchase and/or preservation of rainforest and other land. It notes that “Tropical deforestation accounts for up to 15% of net global carbon emissions each year. Tropical deforestation accounts for up to 15% of net global carbon emissions each year. The increasing uncontrolled human-driven fires in the Brazilian Amazon and around the world release stored carbon into our atmosphere at dangerously unnatural levels. Without the defense of the Earth’s rainforests, our planet will be left increasingly vulnerable to the climate crisis which threatens all species, including us.”
Do you want to help but don’t have the money to spare? Try signing some petitions:
– Greenpeace: Save the Amazon
– Action Network: Demand BlackRock Stop Financing Amazon Destruction
– Stop the Burning of the Amazon Rainforest
WWF has a list of things you can do to help as well, including donation and a post to retweet.
Effects of damage to the Amazon go far beyond Brazil and its neighbors. The area’s rainforest generates more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and 10% of the world’s known biodiversity. The Amazon is referred to as the “lungs of the planet” and plays a major role in regulating the climate. The world would drastically change if the rainforest were to disappear, impacting everything from farms to drinking water.cnet – The Amazon Rainforest is on Fire
I am typically far from any sort of environmental activist, though I care about the environment, it’s often in a very peripheral way. I do my little bits to help, but I’m also discouraged knowing that my impact is small compared to that of large corporations, investors, developers, even governments. We as individuals are so small, and they are so big and so damaging. But if enough of us small people fight a little, fight for that company to adjust their policies, fight for your government to adopt better environmental policies, just fight… maybe it’ll help. Do something. Educate yourself. Educate others. Make your voice heard!
Each site I’ve listed has a veritable ton of information. They’re not just there with their hands out for donations, they are informing, they are educating, they are petitioning for change, and they are succeeding. Contact them and find out what else you can do from your corner of the world.
Of course there are those who don’t believe in climate change. Are you one of those? How about this:
Aim to have a planet that’s still livable when our children grow up. When their children grow up.
I just wrote about Greta Thunberg, who is a 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist. I chose to focus on the ableism she is being shown for being autistic, and how disturbing that is. I chose not to focus on her actual activism at that time, because it wasn’t what I was talking about. Now, it is what I’m talking about.
The first time I heard about Greta, she had given a speech where she said:
Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.Our House is on Fire
I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.
Our house is on fire.
This is no longer just metaphorical. Fire. Fire here, in my home province. Fire in California. Fire in Alaska. Fire in Brazil. Whole climates changing. Images of starving polar bears, skin and bone, whose homes are melting away. We can’t deny this issue, and we can’t pretend that just being aware counts for anything. Be aware. Then act.
Panic. Do something more than clicking, more than pearl-clutching, more than thoughts and prayers.
Take action wherever you can.
**If anyone has any additional resources, links, petitions, anything to help – please comment or email me, and I will be happy to add them into this post**