The Amazon Is Now Emitting More Carbon Than It Is Absorbing It
The Amazon is now accelerating the environmental crisis.
When I was a little girl, I was taught the Amazon was the “the lungs of the earth” and a“carbon sink.” Today, I learned the Amazon is emitting more carbon than it is absorbing it.
Photo credit: Lucian Dachman
Most of it is due to forest fires and aggressive deforestation which have grown more than 40% since Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, took office in 2019.
“The first very bad news is that forest burning produces around three times more CO2 than the forest absorbs. The second bad news is that the places where deforestation is 30% or more show carbon emissions 10 times higher than where deforestation is lower than 20%.” — Luciana Gatti, the National Institute for Space Research in Brazil
The third news is that Brazil is home to 60% of the Amazon rainforest… which makes all this incredibly SCARY.
High demand for Brazilian beef and soybean production is a big reason for this extreme deforestation. In fact, more than than the size of 1 football-field is cleared every minute in the Amazon.
Brazil has sent one loud and clear message to the world: Profits > Preservation.
But, it’s dangerous and unsustainable to continue down this path.
The Amazon represents over half of the world’s remaining rainforests and is home to the largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforest in the world (with 390 billion individual trees divided into 16,000 species).
It’s also home to millions of unique animals not found anywhere else around the world.
Bolsonaro continues to turn a blind eye on environmental enforcements and fines. In doing so, he’s significantly contributed to the rise in illegal logging, mining, cattle-ranching, land-grabbing and the abuse of the Indigenous peoples.
Plus, the Brazilian congress may pass a “land-grabbing law” - or, a bill that legalizes wildcat mining in Indigenous territories. (Wildcat mining is basically looking and drilling for oil wells in areas that are not known to be oil fields.)
Put another way, the Amazon is becoming a home to roads, dams and mines rather than trees.
To make things worse, Brazil is one of the few countries that did not improve its target for cutting emissions by 2030.
Many activists believe Bolsonaro should be held criminally responsible for a “ruthless” assault on the Amazon and haven taken their appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“There is a substantial body of evidence demonstrating the commission of ongoing crimes against humanity within Brazil which requires immediate investigation and prosecution,” the 284-page petition said, pointing to soaring Amazon devastation under Bolsonaro.
“The ICC now has the opportunity – indeed the ICC has the duty – to act.”
These activists accuse Bolsonaro of creating an environmental catastrophe and genocide against Brazil’s indigenous peoples, who are the best stewards of land that humankind has ever seen.
For a long time, many scientists and anthropologists believed that the Amazon was a hostile environment created by evolution. Now, many of them believe that a large portion of the Amazon rainforest could have been a result of thousands of years of human management rather than naturally-occurring.
Land has thrived under Indigenous people’s care, but it dies under our care. In just 3 years we have caused an insane amount of damage to a biosphere that took the Native people thousands of years to create.
I mean, it’s really fucking hard to comprehend the insanity of it all!
Brazil, like many other Latin American countries rich in nature need greener presidents. Ones who will not bend at the smallest pressures imposed by businesses or foreign politicians (who have already devastated their own lands and are now looking to “take” from other countries.)
So, what’s the solution?
We need better leadership in Brazil. One that can set an example of what excellent regional efforts and teamwork can look like to protect our natural environment.
We need to find sustainable sources to deforestation. To demand our leaders to be stewards of the land. Should they choose to not protect the environment, then they there will be consequences. They’ll be judged for their criminal acts against humanity.
On a smaller scale, we can consume less meat and less goods overall and become more eco-conscious. You’d be surprised by how owning less things and eating less meat can contribute to overall happiness and well-being.
If we don’t push for greener policies and demand more from our leaders, we will continue to see destruction in Brazil and the rest of the world. There will be nothing left for our children.
The Amazon Rainforest is Nearly Gone** (Must read!)
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