The Amazon is Burning – and it’s Because of Us

By Michelle Porizkova

Hear me out here – I’m not really trying to place blame on anybody in particular, but rather just shed a light on the problem that the Amazon has faced for decades: a relentless meddling of corporate capitalism that has caused deforestation as well as a multitude of environmental consequences.

But honestly? Let me get real with you – I don’t care all that much. Sure, the updates and photos of the Amazon’s surging wildfires has been lighting up my screen for weeks now. Yes, the devastation left behind in the aftermath churns my stomach. But how much can I honestly care, if I only pause for three seconds and then continue scrolling?

How much does it impact the rest of my day, when two minutes after reading an article on the misplacement of the indigenous people of the Amazon, I joke with my friend about a funny tweet I saw that morning? Surely, I can’t be the only one feeling this way – and, if I am, then please stop reading immediately and lock me up.

Yet, the more I think about how most people have reacted to the news, the more I have realized something; sure, it may seem heartless at first, but the majority of us are all honestly just feeling the same thing – a sort of detachment.

Just to be safe, I asked a student of William Peace University how this crisis has affected her overall. “It’s awful, but I mean, it doesn’t really personally impact me here,” said WPU senior Julia Johnson. And there we go – I’m not as crazy as it seems.

It can be very difficult to resonate with a situation that does not concern you in the slightest, let alone one that is affecting people across the globe. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” Yet with this particular story, it seems that the rainforest has gotten its debut showing at the matinee, and we all scored some front row tickets.

The Brazilian Amazon forest is quite far from the States, yet with such jarring footage and live viewings of the fires, it seems much closer to home than it is. But do we know why it’s even burning?

For decades, forest fires in the Amazon have been the sure solution for clearing land for agricultural purposes. Sure, one family (or 45) may be displaced and without a home – but what’s that compared to the miles and miles of fertile land, ready to be cropped and reaped for the upcoming season?

The Amazon is ripe for the taking – and global corporations have been seizing the opportunity to invest in some proper land for years. Companies such as McDonald’s and Johnson & Johnson have their own business there, with high levels of production in the Amazon boasting their revenue. 

By this point, you’re probably wondering, “but why should I care?” Well, allow me to make things simple. The trees in the Amazon rainforest make up 20 percent of the atmosphere’s total oxygen. With the destruction of these trees, global warming will hit an all time high and only accelerate from there.

Much of the wildlife that calls the Amazon home are on the verge of becoming extinct, as well as the flora of the territory. The chemical emissions that come from the fires will also affect the atmosphere, causing the temperature of our planet to continuously rise. Needless to say, we’re all toast if this keeps happening.

But what can we do about it? While there are not sure-fast and easy ways to stop such catastrophes, there are a few small things we could all consciously pay attention to in order to help stop support for such endeavors. Voting, ethical eating habits, petitions, challenging corporations, and online funding/support can prove to be small steps that lead to a big change.

As I said in the beginning of my spiel – we don’t care much when we see the horrific images of the Amazon, because it is happening thousands of miles away; but the consequences of such natural disasters will affect us all if we don’t try to stop it in its tracks.

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