The Amazon has earned the nickname of “the lungs of the world” because of its essential role in not only providing 20 percent of all the world’s oxygen, but also absorbing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.
So as a record number of fires continue to burn in the Amazon — this year, there have been more than 72,000 fires, an increase of 83 percent from January to August of last year.
Fires are spreading across the Amazon rainforest in the most recent environmental tragedy to strike the region, and for some reason, people actually seem to be paying attention this time. Concerned humans all over the world have taken the first step and begun raising awareness about the very serious issue.
Spreading the word about the problems is truly an essential first step, but now that everyone is properly outraged, it’s time for us to start thinking about solutions. The most important thing that people can do to help the Amazon is sure to be the least popular, and that is reducing consumption.
Many of the products consumed in the western world are actually harvested from the Amazon. This includes oil, beef, paper products and items like palm oil. These days it really isn’t too difficult to find out where the products you buy are being sourced from, and there are many environmentally conscious brands who advertise cruelty-free, locally-cultivated products.
For companies who continue to source their products from the Amazon, boycotts could persuade them to adopt more ethical practices. Activists have had success with this in the past.
In the late 1980s, an environmentalist group called Rainforest Action Network put relentless public pressure on Burger King, demanding that they stop importing bargain-priced beef from tropical rainforest areas. Surprisingly, the campaign was successful, and Burger King canceled beef contracts worth a total of $35 million. The group is currently fighting to have palm oil removed from Halloween candies.
Considering that so much of this environmental destruction seems to be sanctioned by the government, protests have erupted in different corners of the world, in hopes of putting political pressure on the Brazilian government, who has been accused of turning a blind eye to intentionally set fires.
— Extinction Rebellion UK 🌍✨ (@XRebellionUK) August 23, 2019
As the fires became international news, newly elected Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro made headlines by blaming the situation on environmentalist NGOs. Meanwhile, the president insisted that forest fires are not enough of a priority for the government to spend time, money and resources on.
Neighboring countries, who have much smaller economies than Brazil, are contributing to the effort despite financial concerns. For example, Bolivia reportedly sent the largest fire-fighting plane in the world to the border with Brazil in hopes of stopping the blaze.
There are also a number of different reputable charities accepting donations to help the rainforest.
Below are six of the top-rated Amazon charities, according to Charity Navigator.