The Amazon rainforest is burning and has been burning for a while. It was only since 2013 that researchers have been keeping track. And it’s not that it hasn’t been burning before that, it’s just that we hadn’t been keeping track of it before that.
The Amazon rainforest is burning because cattle ranchers have been deliberately razing it to clear the land for cattle. The reason why it has received recognition now is because the clearing of the rainforest has been accelerated by the policies of Brazil’s current president, Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January 2019.
Monica de Bolle, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC, warned that if the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest were to continue like this, it would stop producing enough rain to sustain itself by 2021. Once that tipping point has been reached, it will slowly degrade into a savannah.
The Amazon forest is home to 390 billion trees, more than 16,000 plant species, and millions of animal species. Aside from being home to the most diverse amount of fauna and flora in the entire world by far, the existence of the Amazon rainforest is important on a global scale. The Amazon contains a huge amount of carbon in its vegetation and soil. In fact, it creates more than 20 percent of the entire world’s oxygen. If it were to perish, not only would we lose that flow of oxygen, it would also release all of the carbon within its soil into the atmosphere.
Avoiding beef and dairy is the single biggest way of reducing your environmental impact. The carbon produced from eating one less burger a week for a year is the equivalent of not driving your car for 320 miles. Cattle is responsible for 14.5% of our total global carbon emissions and eating less beef would give the cattle ranchers less incentive to burn the Amazon rainforest.