The Destruction of the Amazon RainForest


Photo Credit: Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory.

The Amazon Rainforest produces 20% of the world’s oxygen, and our world leaders are allowing it to burn which is effectively destroying the world’s largest source of oxygen, hence its name as the ‘Lungs of the Planet’.

Most people don’t realize that the destruction of the Amazon affects the whole world, not just the tribes and animals that live there. The Amazon rainforest covers 2.1 million square miles in South America. The vegetation in the Amazon removes CO2 from the atmosphere and then releases oxygen into the air.

As the sizes of the forest diminishes “the plants are no longer there to take the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere,” said chemistry teacher Randy Shangraw.

This is toxic to the atmosphere because it contributes to the greenhouse effect.

On Aug 24-26, the G7 summit decided to offer $20 million to Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, to put out the fires that are destroying the Amazon. “On the surface, it seems like it would be crazy to reject money, but it seems Brazil’s president feels that the money comes with strings attached,” said biology teacher Cathy Whitlow.

Bolsonaro recently changed his stance on the aid package offered to him. He will accept the money if France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, rescinds his critical comments about him. 

The public was only recently informed about the burning of the Amazon forest. “I felt remorse and shocked that the Amazon was burning for that long…this was an urgent conflict and I felt like there needed to be more talk and action [about] the situation,” said sophomore Kimberly Le.

Many people felt the same sense of sadness and even anger that leaders are allowing the destruction of a world treasure.

In today’s changing climate, it is not a far stretch to assume that the fires were sparked from natural causes because of the world’s increasing temperature, but this was not the case. These fires were set intentionally. “A lot of [them are] intentional fires to clear land for cattle and agricultural uses,” said Shangraw.

It is predicted that 15% of the Amazon rainforest has been cleared for agricultural use according to Greenpeace, a non-governmental environmental organization.

A lot of people are worried about what this could do to the world we live in. If the government does not pass legislation to protect the environment, global warming will continue to speed up. “I think we need to act now to protect the environment or future generations will know a very different earth,” said Whitlow.