In the past three weeks, a record number of fires have raged in the Amazon Rainforest, with over half of the 72,843 fires recorded in Brazil in 2019 occurring in the Amazon. The fires have recently gained more attention on social media, in part due to a wave of outrage at the lack of coverage of the fires in the media. Residents of São Paulo, Brazil also called attention to the fires in the Amazon after sharing photos of a strangely dark sky during the day, which may be linked to the fires.
The burning of the Amazon could be a major setback in fighting climate change, as the rain forest produces 20% of the world's oxygen. Continued fires could instead cause increased carbon emissions, which would instead further contribute to climate change. The Amazon also houses about one million indigenous people from up to 500 different tribes, who are now at risk of losing their homes and being displaced.
It's important to note that these are not all-natural fires. While fires are common in Brazil at this time of year, natural fires are generally uncommon in the Amazon. These fires are likely to have been part of a rise in deforestation in Brazil: local farmers had planned a "Day of Fire" to take place in August, with the goal of clearing the land for agricultural purposes. The dry conditions and high temperatures in Brazil only bolster the flames.
While you're not expected to go to the Amazon yourself and fight the fires directly, there are many ways to aid in the conservation of the Amazon Rainforest. Donations can be made to organizations such as the Amazon Conservation Association, Amazon Conservation Team, or the Rainforest Action Network. Donations to the Rainforest Trust help to buy and protect land in the rainforest. You can also visit Amazon Watch's site to donate and look into other ways to take action towards both conservation and supporting the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon. In addition, you can donate to the WWF to help protect the wildlife living in the Amazon. There are also ways to aid in the effort against deforestation as a whole, such as using Ecosia, a search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches. And of course, it's important to keep raising awareness and urging others to take action.