The Amazon is burningAugust 26 2019
Rainforests are crucial to life
Rainforests are the heartbeat of the earth. We rely on our rainforests to provide clean, filtered air to breathe, a home for indigenous communities and endangered species, and help to regulate our climate through releasing oxygen in the atmosphere, while absorbing huge amounts of carbon dioxide. This puts them at the frontline in the fight against global warming.
A rainforest on fire
The Amazon is a biodiversity hotspot, home to 1 million indigenous people and 3 million species, and it’s under extreme threat. This year alone, more than 74,000 fires have caused unprecedented damage throughout Brazil (many centered in the Amazon), rapidly releasing carbon dioxide into the air. While wildfires do naturally occur during the dry season, this is an 83% increase over this point last year.
Why is this happening?
Sadly, much of this destruction could be prevented. This devastation is directly related to Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro’s decision to roll back environmental protections of the Amazon in an effort to open the land up to harmful logging, mining and ranching. The resulting exploitation of the world’s largest rainforest can only be described as an international crisis. Since he took office earlier this year, the Brazilian Amazon has lost 39% more forest cover than last year. This rapid surge in deforestation (much of it illegal), coupled with a changing climate, has caused a typically humid and wet region to experience much dryer conditions. This means that once the fires begin to burn, they can quickly get out of hand.
More than three-quarters of the deforestation is the result of cattle ranching or soy production and many of the fires are intentionally started to clear land for these farmers and ranchers. While many of these practices were previously regulated by the Brazilian government, Bolsonaro’s decision to open the region up for agricultural development has emboldened speculators to resort to harmful tactics in hopes of turning a profit.
What can we do?
While sometimes issues like this may feel distant and inconsequential, the Amazon’s integral role in regulating our global climate means this is a problem that affects us all. At Alter Eco, this crisis is especially close to our hearts since the Amazon has been a crucial part of our supply chain since day one. We’ve long worked with both small-scale cacao farmers who depend on the rainforest and their land for their livelihood, and our partners at Pur Projet who help these farmers preserve delicate ecosystems through sustainable agroforestry. We’ll do everything in our power to help conserve this land and support them in their fight to protect their home.
Here are a few small, but important ways that we can do our part:
1) Donate directly to organizations working on the frontline to support indigenous communities who are fighting to protect and preserve their land.
2) Pledge solidarity with Brazil’s resistance.Environmentalists and indigenous communities are working hard to counter Bolsanaro’s reckless agenda. Sign the pledge to let them know they have your support!
3) Keep talking about this!
It’s crucial that we don’t let this become yesterday’s news story. Stay informed and continue to educate others about what is happening. Unfortunately, there is a lot of disinformation circulating and corporate interest groups wish to downplay the severity of the problem. The more we can continue to speak about this tragedy, the better chance we have of ending this threat.
4) Be a conscious consumer.
Support companies with responsible, transparent supply chains. Boycott companies that are knowingly complicit in rainforest destruction. Ingredients like palm oil and soy are directly linked to rainforest destruction (reminder that many chocolate products use unnecessary palm oil and soy lecithin). Make sure to avoid products sourced from Brazil, like beef and paper products. When buying wood products, look for a "Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)" seal to ensure it was sourced in a forest-friendly way.
5) Don’t stop the pressure.
Your power is your voice and your vote. Call or write your elected officials and let them know you want responsible climate action NOW.
6) Let’s work together to end deforestation so this never happens again.
While planting trees is important for the health of our planet (we do this every year in the Peruvian Amazon to offset our company’s full carbon footprint), a primary rainforest is impossible to replace. Billions of trees are cut down each year to the benefit of agribusiness and large corporations, with little concern for the impact on communities, species and the climate. This needs to end.
That's why we're taking our conservation efforts one step further. In a continued effort to protect and restore the ecosystems in which we source our ingredients, we're participating in projects to protect trees in the Biocorredor Martin Sagrado primary rainforest in Peru from illegal logging and gold mining – a practice called ‘avoided deforestation’. Because now more than ever, our forests need protection so they can continue to support our global climate the way they always have.
“The Amazon Rainforest Has Been on Fire for Three Weeks. Here's Why You're Only Hearing About It Now.” Amazon Watch, amazonwatch.org/news/2019/0821-amazon-rainforest-has-been-on-fire-for-three-weeks-heres-why-youre-only-hearing-about-it-now.
Casado, Letícia, and Ernesto Londoño. “Under Brazil's Far-Right Leader, Amazon Protections Slashed and Forests Fall.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 July 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/07/28/world/americas/brazil-deforestation-amazon-bolsonaro.html.
Sullivan, Zoe. “The Real Reason the Amazon Is on Fire.” Time, Time, 26 Aug. 2019, time.com/5661162/why-the-amazon-is-on-fire/.
“Why the Amazon Is Burning, and Why It's Going to Get Worse.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 22 Aug. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/world/amp-stories/amazon-fires-causes-rainforest-climate-change/.