Friends of the Rainforest is committed to our mission of educating and inspiring children and adults to take action to protect, support, and expand the Rainforest.

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T: 314.941.1257

    1.855.941.1257

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It's Getting Hot in Here

In case you were wondering, the world is still on fire. Forest fires are ravaging the natural jungles of the world in Indonesia, Malaysia, and, of course, the Amazon.  These fires, which may start under the control of farmers and companies, have resulted in the destruction of the natural habitats for many creatures and plants that call these forests home.

How big of a problem is this? The Amazon Rainforest, which is the largest rainforest in the world, stretches across over 2,000,000 miles in South America and accounts for the greatest diversity of life on Earth. In addition to acting as this important habitat, rainforests are often referred to as “the lungs of the Earth” and the Amazon accounts for about 20% of the worlds oxygen supply. Thus, a threat to the rainforest is a threat to the very balance of the Earth’s global ecosystem.

A forest fire rages in the town of Porto Velho, state of Rondonia, Amazonia, Brazil, on Sept. 9. (Fernando Bizerra/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

How big of a problem is this? The Amazon Rainforest, which is the largest rainforest in the world, stretches across over 2,000,000 miles in South America and accounts for the greatest diversity of life on Earth. In addition to acting as this important habitat, rainforests are often referred to as “the lungs of the Earth” and the Amazon accounts for about 20% of the worlds oxygen supply. Thus, a threat to the rainforest is a threat to the very balance of the Earth’s global ecosystem.

This is not the first time that rainforests around the world have burned, but the object of concern should be the record scale with which they are burning. Earlier this year, reports indicated that there have been a record number of fires in the Amazon. Satellites have spotted not only an abundance of forest fires, but also the smoke generated by these fires. Reports by NASA revealed pictures taken from space that showed an ominous cloud of smoke hanging over the Amazon which has plunged some cities in South America into darkness.

While some may chalk these fires up to natural disaster, the root cause is actually man. Human efforts to develop the land for agribusiness and farming results in the deforestation of the world’s natural jungles. The record fires coincide with record levels of deforestation as protecting the environment has taken a backseat for local government policy to support ranchers and farmers who can use the land. This land is then used to farm and raise livestock in order to meet the demands for beef and other products that are used in animal feed.

A stream in the Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador copyright Dr. Morely Read, shutterstock.com

While world governments tackle the issues of climate change and how to incentivize environmental protection over the lucrative benefits of deforestation, local action by consumers can help to shift the needle on this important issue. Because deforestation is largely driven by our consumption of certain products, reducing the use of these products can have a positive impact. Avoid using palm oil, which is a product that many plantations that have cleared away the rainforest have produced.  Reducing the meat in a person’s diet is another way to help, since rainforest land has been cleared by ranchers to raise livestock to meet demands. Or, make sure the source of the meat is local; local organizations like Known & Grown STL and other regional sites do a great job of putting people in touch with local farmers, which limits the demand for international meat. These small steps are among the many ways that individuals can help reduce deforestation and protect the rainforest.

Scorched earth from a fire southwest of Porto Velho, Brazil, in the upper Amazon River basin, is seen in an image taken by Maxar's WorldView-3 satellite on August 15, 2019.

CREDIT: Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies