Fire blazes through Brazil’s Amazon

The Amazon rainforest in Brazil has been burning for months. The raging fire has been in the news for several weeks now, and environmentalists are extremely concerned.

The Amazon spans through eight different South American countries, and is the source of one-fifth of the world’s oxygen. The Amazon has been burning since the beginning of this year, but the raging fires have grown drastically this August.
Most of the rainforest is located in Brazil, where there were over 80,000 fires this year alone, according to Brazil’s space center.

According to CNN, the number of fires this year is nearly 85 percent higher than the year of 2013, setting a record for the Amazon.

Activists and politicians have blamed Brazil’s new president for the fires and other deforestation activities in the Amazon. Since the president’s election in October of 2018, the fires have broken out in a very large portion of Brazil’s rainforest.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has taken a very different approach to the conservation of the Amazon rainforest than his predecessors. Bolsonaro has promised to open the Amazon for development by companies large and small.

This opens the way for farming, logging, and other developmentally based professions to begin capitalizing on their new potential land. This pro-business approach has been favored by Brazilian companies, who have been held accountable for setting fires to make room for their prospective business projects.

Bolsonaro’s approach could lead to holding humankind accountable for the majority of the fires that environmentalists are so concerned about.

The fires have also been harmful to the animals and indiginous peoples who live in the region. Deforestation has caused indiginous people to lose the homes their ancestors have lived in for hundreds of years. 

The burning of the Amazon will also have a drastic effect on our climate. Andrew Neill, professor of natural sciences at JJC says, “We have reached a tipping point of damaging the rainforest over such an enormous area that it can very well eliminate an entire ecosystem.” 

Neill, however, does not believe the rainforests will be decimated entirely. He states, “I do not think the amazon rainforest will be completely eliminated, but our collective damage could weaken landscape processes of nutrient cycling, oxygen production and maintaining biodiversity.”
He also mentions that Illinois prairies are more endangered than the rainforest. When asked what we could personally do Neill says, “People can stay informed, engage in the issues, and vote. We can volunteer in efforts restoring local prairie, and forest ecosystems at Joliet Junior College and the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie near Elwood”. 

Speaking of volunteer work, the JJC Science Club is hosting a community service outing focusing on the local environment. Volunteers will be assisting in the removal of invasive plants, brush, and branches from a JJC hiking path.

The outing is taking place on Oct. 6, and participants will be expected to arrive before 8 a.m. to begin the project. Louder equipment, including chainsaws, will be in use.

Gloves and safety equipment will be provided on site.