Posted by Matthew Wong

The Amazon rainforest is burning. However, this isn’t a new concept to the Brazilian rainforest. The problem is President Jair Bolsonaro’s reluctance of protecting the Amazon. Since taking office as President of Brazil in January, Brazil’s area of the Amazon has lost more than 1330 square miles. Most of this loss is caused by farmers aiming to use the Amazon’s land to expand their farm via slash and burn methods. This has been explicitly illegal until recently, when President Bolsonaro stated that he held no concern for the burning rainforest and that his government wouldn’t stop them if they were to continue. He believes that the Amazon shouldn’t be protected nor should indigenous lands. The continuation of such claims and statements can have profound effects on both the Amazon and its effects on global warming.

Acting as a carbon reservoir, the Amazon holds large amounts of global carbon emissions. It is said that the Amazon removes around 5% of such carbon emissions through the process of photosynthesis. However, as the Amazon continues to burn, such emissions are being released back into the environment. The Amazon is a crucial component of fighting climate change and must be kept intact. 

Ever since President Bolsonaro took power, his government has been pulling away from protecting the Amazon and indigenous lands. He believes that such land is a hindrance to  economic gain. In addition, President Bolsonaro has spread rhetoric regarding his government’s involvement in illegal affairs. This has then encouraged more illegal ranching and deforestation of the Amazon. His approach in making these lands available for extractive industries and plantations has negative effects on the health of our planet. A large number of environmentalists, researchers and government executives are alarmed at Bolsonaro’s hesitation in helping the Amazon. But as outrage grew, Bolsonaro was pressured to finally send in military to aid in containing the fires. 

Recently, YAC members held a conversation regarding the situation behind the Amazon fire. Many members believed that politicians are feigning ignorance in order to look at the economic gain, instead of the ecological outcome. Politicians believe that the land is a hindrance for profit and wealth. Also, one must take into account the indigenous lands and the Amazonian tribes that are located within the forest. Not only are the politicians worsening the environment, they’re also driving out the indigenous communities that protect and seek refuge in the forest. They choose to ignore the grave consequences that they have caused, all in the name of profit. One member mentioned that despite the fact the politicians would be wealthy and financially stable, they would be so in a fastly degrading climate. These politicians are blinded by wealth, and in return, their planet is dying.