BEHIND THE FIRES
The Amazon rainforest is burning. A cloud of smoke covered São Paulo, Brazil, shrouding the city in darkness for a day. Satellites can detect the fires from space.
What’s driving the rapid increase in fires? Experts point to the clearing of forest for farmland to raise cattle and grow soybeans to feed farmed animals.
The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world and helps buffer against global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide—2 billion tons of it per year. The Amazon rainforest holds around 150–200 billion tons of carbon.
When they burn, trees and plants release stored carbon. Destroying large blocks of rainforest accelerates climate change by releasing massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
The entire world will feel the effects of these fires, and we are all culpable for the destruction they cause.
The United States is Brazil’s third-largest export market. In response to the fires, lawmakers in Congress recently introduced federal legislation, calling for a prohibition on importing certain Brazilian products from industries linked to the fires.
The bill, H.R. 4263, will have the greatest chance of success if more cosponsors sign on. Take action today by urging your U.S. representative to cosponsor this legislation. This action is only for U.S. residents.
Demo in São Paulo
Wearing paper gas masks, holding signs, and pushing a 10-foot-long barbecue grill, Mercy For Animals activists in Brazil sent a powerful message: The Amazon is burning, and the world’s appetite for meat is fueling the fires.
The eye-opening demonstration took place Sunday, September 22, on the renowned Paulista Avenue in São Paulo. A burning rainforest smoked under the grill’s bars, and on top of the grill sat a massive “steak.” Read more.
Photos: Marcelo Fim
PEOPLE WHO CALL THE FOREST HOME
The Amazon is home to more than 30 million people, among them 1 million indigenous people across 400 tribes. The indigenous communities depend on the forest, and they have sustainably cared for it for thousands of years. They have no power to stop the fires that destroy the only home they’ve ever known and threaten their very existence.
Scientists warn that if deforestation in the Amazon reaches a critical point, between 20 and 25 percent, the water cycle will be too disrupted to support rainforest ecosystems, lengthening dry periods and triggering a shift to degraded savanna vegetation in two-thirds of the Amazon.
LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY
Over the past 40 years, the total number of birds, amphibians, mammals, and reptiles who populate the global ecosystem has dropped by 60 percent. The primary culprit is agriculture, particularly the industrial-scale production of meat, dairy, and eggs. Raising animals for food already uses two-thirds of the world’s agricultural land. As our swelling population’s demand for animal products requires more and more land, unspoiled areas and the beings who live there are at risk. Ten percent of all species live in the Amazon.