AUSTIN (KXAN) — The “heart” of the planet is in trouble as thousands of wildfires consume the Amazon rainforest — drawing concern from leaders around the world.
The rainforest is eight times the size of Texas and contains 10% of the species on Earth, but most importantly it gives us 20% of oxygen and absorbs massive amounts of carbon monoxide.
“It’s the largest life support system on the planet” says Chris Searles with the non-profit Biointegrity. “When you burn an acre of tropical forest, you’re talking about releasing two hundred tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere…the average American carbon footprint is about 20 tons per year.”
If the wildfires destroy the rainforest, 90 billion metric tons of carbon would be released into the atmosphere, which would then turn into carbon dioxide.
The Amazon also serves to regulate moisture around the globe. Without it, scientists believe rain patterns would be greatly impacted. Models suggest that places like London and Hawaii could see an increase in rain while areas like Texas could see more droughts.
“It’s like your body’s vital organs. As you shut down that functionality on a planetary scale, you shut down that function for maintaining life and for maintaining climate,” says Searles.
According to Searles, the wildfire smoke that’s blotting out the sky over Brazil is caused by deforestation efforts use fire instead of heavy machinery. These fires have now grown into a global concern.
Just today, world leaders at the G7 summit agreed to provide 20 million dollars to help fight the flames and Brazil’s president, who has been blamed for the fires, has sent in the military to put them out.
Here’s how can you help protect the rainforest:
- Educate your friends and family
- Purchase items with an FSC label that designates they were sustainable harvested.
- Reduce use of fossil fuels
- You can look into non-profits aimed at reforestation and protecting lands
- Help protect indigenous people in these regions through political pressure and non-profits