Opinion: Amazon Rainforest Burns, Epitomizes Society’s Greed

By: Emma Kolick

Raging and ferocious fires have been ravaging the esteemed Amazon Rainforest for weeks, annihilating indigenous people’s homes and destroying multifarious species of plants and animals. With nearly three football fields of lush forest being eradicated every minute, smoke is billowing from the region, leaving citizens of São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, in darkness. As a result of this, many are being rushed to the hospital in respiratory distress. While the toll being taken on citizens is devastating, the effects of the fire are even more disastrous to the three million species of indigenous plants and animals that are housed in the rainforest. Despite the Amazon’s dire need of outside help, Brazillian President Jair Bolsonaro has been refusing to accept assistance from foreign countries, epitomizing the way world leaders tend to prioritize the economy over the ongoing destruction of our planet, which in turn will ultimately lead to humanity’s demise if immediate action is not taken.  

Countries such as France, Britain and Canada have offered to allocate $40 million to Brazil to battle against this international disaster, yet President Jair Bolsonaro has rejected these funds, claiming these countries are attempting to gain the Amazon’s natural resources for their country’s benefit. Given that the Amazon Rainforest produces an astronomical 6% of the oxygen that the world inhales, dismissing the idea of aid is abhorrent and impermissible, and world leaders cannot allow Bolsonaro to be remiss toward this catastrophe. 

However, it is unsurprising that Bolsonaro has neglected the fires due to the fact that he has virtually encouraged farmers across Brazil to set fire to the Amazon to exploit the resources for economic gain.

Immediately following Brazil’s election of Bolsonaro, he stated that he would initiate the development of the Amazon Rainforest in order to ameliorate the Brazilian economy. However, the economy began to deteriorate, and he quickly began to blame environmentalists. Given that they attempt to curb deforestation, he viewed this as a way to interfere with the economy because he could no longer expand the soy industry. He has even greatly reduced funding that was allotted to agencies that are accountable for implementing environmental regulations. Soybean farmers are unwearied in their efforts to burn down the Amazon to raise cattle and create soybean fields, and Bolsonaro has made minimal attempts to reprimand the detestable actions of the farmers. It is inconceivable to believe that Bolsonaro and numerous farmers are actively and knowingly destroying the planet, in spite of evidence that unquestionably shows we have only a minimal amount of time left to reverse the exorbitant damage we have released onto the Earth.

The Amazon, also known as the “Lungs of the Earth,” has released around 125 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in our already greenhouse emissions-ridden atmosphere this year due to the abundance of fires. Given that greenhouse emissions are the primary cause of global warming, this contributes to the ongoing climate crisis that impacts virtually every country, including the United States. If the Amazon continues to be exterminated, rainfall in the Midwest will nearly cease, which would mean devastating effects for those who live in areas such as Ohio, as much of their food supply will be void of the proper water amount. 

Moreover, the role of the Amazon remains vital in regulating the climate notwithstanding the fact that nearly 20% of it has been burned in the past four decades. Environmental scientists say that if another 10% of the forest is eliminated, the rainforest will reach a tipping point and the remaining portion of the Amazon will be transformed into a savannah.

This will have catastrophic consequences, and the Amazon will no longer reduce the rate of climate change or supply the world with 6% of its oxygen. The rate at which the Amazon is burning and the brazen lack of reaction from world leaders is endangering one of the last opportunities we have to attempt to alter the ferocity with which the climate is warming before it becomes irreversible. 

In denying the urgency of the situation, Bolsonaro continues to disregard climate change and the ramifications of his despicable actions. He remains fixated on the short-term goals of his ideal economy at the expense of the future of our planet. However, it is even worse that the vast majority of business owners are willing to agree with Bolsonaro’s false ideologies in placing monetary gain ahead of the world’s most important ecosystem. It is deplorable to think that amid the largest climate crisis in the history of humanity, world leaders and those high-ranking on the world stage continue to ignore the absolute ruination of the world. 

If world leaders continue to have an utter lack of response towards the largest crisis the planet has ever faced and our actions become irreversible, the Earth will recover. Our planet has lasted 4.5 billion years, and our abominable and loathsome lack of awareness will not permanently mutilate the world. However, humanity and humans themselves will not recover. Due to soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, droughts and the deterioration of the air quality, the extinction of humans could occur by as early as 2050 if incredibly significant actions are not taken within the next decade. While society tends to believe that climate change will not significantly impact them, this simply isn’t true.

As the Amazon continues to burn, the trees cease to intake carbon dioxide and slow global warming, while simultaneously releasing well over 100 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, which will increase climate change in an inconceivably alarming way. The actions performed by humanity are dangerously close to becoming irreversible, and if world leaders refuse to limit their carbon output and ignore fires that are destroying the planet’s most important ecosystem, humans will be on the brink of extinction.

Instead of seeking temporary economic gain by exploiting the Amazon’s resources, Bolsonaro and other world leaders must put a stop to the eradication of the rainforest before this crisis turns into a chain reaction in which humanity no longer has control over the environment they live in. 

**The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various column authors on this Website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Royal News Staff or North Royalton High School.

Emma Kolick is currently a sophomore at North Royalton High School. She is involved in numerous clubs such as student council, Key Club, Spanish Club, Environmental Awareness Club, French Club, and STAND. She is also a member of the girls track team. Outside of school she enjoys yoga, reading, writing, and hanging out with friends and family. After high school, she plans to attend college and pursue a career in journalism and political science.