It’s all over the news and everywhere in your social media feeds: the Amazon rainforest is on fire. Here at our Greenpeace Canada offices, we’re getting constant updates from our colleagues at Greenpeace Brazil. From those in the heart of the rainforest, who have been working side by side with Indigenous communities there for years. From those in the sky, documenting the unimaginable extent of the fires. From those in the capital of Brasilia, working through political channels to reverse the aggressively anti-environmental policies that have allowed this to happen.
For all of them, and for us here in Canada, these fires bring complete and utter heartbreak. We know that the Amazon helps absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide. We know that if we lose the lungs of our planet, precious species will go extinct, Indigenous and rural communities will lose their land, and we may lose the fight against total climate breakdown. We know that much of what is lost may never be recovered.
We also know that this is not happening by accident. Fires are one of the main tools used for deforestation by destructive logging, agriculture and mining industries. These industries are literally burning down the Amazon so they can make more money, and the government is encouraging them to do it. Between January and August 2019 alone, the number of fires has increased by 145% compared to the same period in 2018. And beyond the spectacular destruction of these fires lies even more loss. Silent and hidden deforestation driven by these same industries has been rising at an alarming rate in recent months too.
If you’re like me, this heartbreak will drive you to act with even greater urgency. Stay tuned: we will be in touch in the coming days to ask for your help to save the Amazon. A catastrophe of this scale demands a massive response, and each and every one of your voices will be critical.
In the meantime, our hearts and thoughts here at Greenpeace are with the victims of the fires, with Indigenous communities who depend on the Amazon to survive, with wildlife whose habitats are disappearing, with Brazilians whose skies have suddenly darkened, and with humanity as a whole.
Executive Director, Greenpeace Canada