I’d like to ask you all a question? Why are we deciding to kill our planet, and without knowing killing ourselves, and why aren’t we doing anything to stop it? Most of you probably don’t know that the Amazon rainforest has been burning for the past months and that more than 2,240,000 acres of land have been destroyed. And if you did know you’re probably thinking: “I don’t care; that’s never going to affect us”. Well you’re wrong.
According to the Associated Press, the Amazon absorbs 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year— about 5%of global emissions. Thus, fires in the region eat away at this carbon-absorbing capacity while at the same time adding carbon to the air through burning. And so if the forests continues to burn, the quality of the air will be worsened and so people suffering with lung problems may be affected.
Rainforests add large amounts of water to the atmosphere when plants release water from their leaves during photosynthesis. But if those trees are destroyed it will mean less rainfall all around the world. Causing potentially devastating impacts in agriculture and farming.
And it doesn’t stop there. Many anti-cancer drugs come from rainforest plants. Compounds from rainforest plants are used to treat different health problems. If those plants are burnt in the fires many the cures for many diseases could disappear.
The forest fires are also destroying the habitats of hundreds of species of animals and plants all over the Amazon. Not only is this affecting the species that live on land but also the diverse species of the rivers. Trees and plants on river banks help stop the river flooding but however now that those trees have been burnt to ashes the river’s course is changing, altering the Amazons aquatic ecosystem.
But why is this happening? Most of you were probably quick to blame dry weather for these fires but they are actually a human-made disaster. The fires are set by loggers and cattle ranchers who use a “slash and burn” method to clear land. Feeding off very dry conditions, some of those fires have spread out of control. 12% of what was once Amazonian forest- about 93 million acres is now farmland.
So who is letting this horror go on? The reason the Amazon is burning is because Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wants it to. He thinks the Amazon should not be protected, and that lands reserved for indigenous peoples should not be recognized — all in the name of economic growth. He has not merely permitted these devastating fires, but has encouraged and fuelled them.
The burning of the Amazon rainforest is making most of the environmental threats we are facing much worse. Climate change, deforestation, air pollution and loss of biodiversity are all being worsened because of the fires. They are indeed the most dangerous threat of all to our environment.
Adriana S, Year 10
Imagine I were a genie. I know it’s a weird way to start an argument but bear with me. I can grant you one wish, but there’s a catch. You can only use this wish to stop one factor that is causing climate change. No you can’t choose to eradicate humanity, though that would a a solution, however psychopathic. You can choose to find an alternative to plastic, or maybe even an alternative to fossil fuels. Or, you can choose to stop the burning of the Amazon. Your choice. I want you to think about that as I argue my point.
Climate change is the biggest threat our world faces today. Climate change affects our oceans; glaciers and ice caps are beginning to melt due to increasing temperatures, resulting in entire islands being flooded. Warmer temperatures make weather more extreme, meaning more violent storms, and longer and more frequent droughts. Growing crops has become more difficult, and water supplies have diminished. Even our health is at risk, the atmosphere in urban areas traps smog, causing lung cancer, asthma, and heart disease.
Climate change is a huge problem; there’s no doubt about that, and a huge cause of climate change over the past couple years has been the burning of the largest rainforest on earth, the Amazon. The amazon represents over half of the planet’s rainforests, it’s burning has caused a huge amount of CO2 being released into the air.
But however dangerous this is to the environment, this is not the factor that increases climate change the most. The gases we produce from our cars yearly exceed the amount of CO2 released from the burning of the Amazon, by far. Just think about how much your parents drive on a yearly basis; every day they drop you off at school, drive to work, pick you back up, drive home. All the holidays you go on, all the times you go visit your grandparents, all the times they need to go do the shopping, or just drive into the city. A car burns one gallon per 35 km, for me that’s the distance to school everyday. So, think about how much you drive yearly, and now think about how much everyone else drives yearly, or uses public transport, or has a yacht or speedboat in Mallorca, Alicante, Barcelona, wherever. The amount of CO2 released from vehicles yearly exceeds the amount of CO2 produced from the burning of the Amazon, greatly.
Now, let me talk about plastic. Primarily single use plastic. Single use plastics are used only once before they are thrown away, or recycled. The process of breaking it down releases toxic chemicals. Maybe some of you try to prevent this in your daily lives and maybe some of you don’t. But you probably do, everyone here drinks soft drinks from a can, everyone’s used glitter or stickers, and, don’t lie to me, everyone’s been to Starbucks. But what about some of the other, less noticeable single use plastics? How many of you knew that chewing gum contains plastic? Or, I doubt that many of you drink tea, but tea bags also contain plastic. Our daily lives are filled with plastic.
The reality is that there are much more destructive forces than the burning of the rainforest. And so I want to return to your one wish. If you could choose to stop one factor that is causing climate change, what would you choose?