This summer’s reporting of a record number of fires in the Amazon rain forest has concerned the president of an environmental club at the Seminole State College Lee Campus in Oviedo.
“The Earth is our home, and it confounds me that people don’t actually get that or remember that this is our only home and we should be taking care of it,” said Janina Bagherzadeh, president of Environmental Initiatives Club at the Oviedo campus.
People have grown unaware of the Amazon rainforest’s importance not just to Brazil but the Earth itself, she said.
She advocates for more people to become vegan, which would cut down on meat and dairy products. The need for meat consumption tends to lead to deforestation in the Amazon in order to grow crops to feed cattle, pigs and chicken.
The Brazilian government is led by new President Jair Bolsonaro, who has weakened protections for the forests, according to news reports.
“They are not reprimanding the people that are doing this; they are letting it slide,” Bagherzadeh said.
She added that she feels as if Brazil could do more with its power to stop the fires.
Instead of preventing fires, she said, Brazil has provided more of an incentive for farmers to continue burning and developing the Amazon River basin and the surrounding forest.
National Geographic reported last month that there were about 76,000 fires burning across Brazil at one point this summer. That represents an increase of more than 80 percent from the previous year.
National Geographic and others have said the reports that the Amazon is responsible for about 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen are not accurate. But the burning does have a significant impact on stabilizing rainfall in South America as well as the immense habitat that houses many indigenous peoples, wildlife and plant life.
“Very few people talk about biodiversity, but the Amazon is the most biodiverse ecosystem on land, and climate change and deforestation are putting that richness at risk,”said climate scientist Carlos Nobre of the University of Sao Paulo’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Brazil, as quoted by National Geographic in August.
Mark Bush is a professor of paleoecology at the Florida Institute of Technology. National Geographic quoted him last month about the Amazon fires.
“The signature of fire is a uniquely human signature in the Amazon,” Bush said. “It comes right in with maize or manioc agriculture—you know exactly what’s going on; it’s the people in that landscape.”
The Amazon rainforest has become a target for farmers, who are continuously tempted to clear more land.