The Amazon is under attack. But you can do something about it.
Last year, the world watched in horror as large areas of the Amazon rainforest burned. But this year’s fires may be even bigger.
Why is the Amazon burning?
Fires in the Amazon rainforest are not natural. They are deliberately set by land-grabbers and ranchers to expand the land used for cattle grazing and industrial agriculture production.
Since Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019, the problem has gotten much worse. Bolsonaro is pushing for more industrial projects in the Amazon. His government is actively dismantling environment laws, slashing funding for environmental protection agencies and demolishing Indigenous land rights.
This has given free reign for forest destroyers to clear and burn the forest without being held accountable. There has even been a surge in murders of Indigenous forest guardians as land-grabbers move in on Indigenous lands.
What’s at stake?
The Amazon is home to a staggering diversity of plants and animals – around 10 percent of all vertebrate species and many species found nowhere else on Earth. Plants and slow-moving animals are burned up in the fires, while fast-moving animals may escape only to die from habitat loss.
The fires – and Bolsonaro’s genocidal policies – threaten Indigenous Peoples’ very existence. Indigenous communities in the Amazon also face an immediate serious health threat from the forest fire smoke, as many communities are already reeling from high COVID-19 mortality.
And the impacts of the fires ripple far beyond the region itself. Every person on earth depends on the Amazon to help regulate our climate. The rainforest sucks carbon from the air and stores it in billions of trees. It produces a “flying river” of water vapour that distributes rain across South America and impacts weather in other continents.
If deforestation continues, the entire biome will hit an irreversible tipping point. The surviving forest would no longer be able to produce its own rainfall and quickly transform into an arid savannah – killing off species and releasing massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
What can you do?
Ultimately President Bolsonaro and his government must be made to back down from their assault on Indigenous rights and environmental protections, and instead take concrete action to protect the Amazon.
So far the only thing that has influenced Bolsonaro is intense international pressure from companies, investors and governments threatening to cut business ties unless the Amazon is protected.
Despite this, our own government plans to continue negotiating a Canada-Mercosur free trade agreement with Brazil. Even worse, Brazil’s Big Agro is celebrating because the agreement is expected to increase Brazil’s meat exports to Canada. Yes! The lead driver of the Amazon fires!
It is unacceptable for our government to reward Bolsonaro’s attacks on the environment and to make Canadians complicit in it.
We need to send a clear message that will resonate all the way back to Bolsonaro: There will be no trade deals in environmental destruction.