Unless you've been living under a rock, you should be knowing that the Amazon rainforest is burning. It has been burning for more than two weeks at a stretch; but hey, if it doesn't affect you personally, why bother, right?
Here's where you're wrong though. The rainforests are called the lungs of the planet for a reason, given that they account for at least 20 per cent of the earth's oxygen supply. Over 73,000 fires have completely decimated the forests this year, according to Reuters. A report by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) shows that there has been a record increase in the number of fires by at least 83 per cent this year.
Still not worried?
Here's why you should care. Apart from supply of oxygen, the rainforest also plays a crucial role in regulating climate around the planet. If the Amazon were to disappear off the face of the earth, life as you know it would drastically change.
Ever since news of the fires broke, there has been significant outrage over the lack of attention and inaction following the disaster. Many have tweeted and posted on social media how the measures taken are not enough. But isn't there something that each of us can do? Yes, of course, our efforts may not make a huge difference. But at this point, every act counts.
What caused the fire?
According to NASA, dry seasons in the Amazon make it susceptible to fires. However, as Reuters reports, blaming the dry season for the firest isn't entirely accurate. On the contrary, it is human activity which contributes to the summer fires. If you recall high school geography, fires are often used by man to clear land for ranching or farming.
What can you do?
Irrespective of the cause, we really have no time to sit back, relax and let nature take its course. Ever wondered if you could help in any way? Here are eight things you could do:
1. Rainforest Action Network allows you to make donations which would allow you to protect one acre of the rainforest. Every acre matters, right?
2. A lawyer named Gabriel Santos from Rio Branco has filed a petition on Change.org, named "Stop the burning of the Amazon rainforest!" You can sign this petition to make your voice heard.
3. An organisation called the Rainforest Trust allows you to buy land in the forest itself. This has helped save acres of land over the years.
4. In case you're wondering how you could be of any help given that you're sitting thousands of miles away, spreading awareness is a great way to start. Find out as much as possible about the crisis and the developments so far. This way, you can educate yourself and those around you.
5. Reduce consumption of wood and paper as much as possible. If you're using products made of paper or wood, make sure it is rainforest safe.
6. You know what's worse than the fire that has been wreaking havoc in the forest? Your silence. Make your words heard. Raise your voice. #PrayforAmazonas is trending on all social media platforms. Why not join the bandwagon?
7. Damage due to the fire is inevitable. But the onus is on us to minimise deforestation as far as possible. Rainforest Alliance is a site which allows you to make donations towards reforestation. The organisation ensures that your money would be used to prevent deforestation in Brazil.
8. Live sustainably. Look around. Does your lifestyle look sustainable to you? There's really no point expressing concern over social media if you aren't practicing what you preach. Reducing fuel consumption and reduction of greenhouse gases, for instance, are some steps you can take towards a more eco-friendly life style.
It's not too late, yet.