Cattle ranchers have been purposely razing the Amazon rainforest to clear the land for cattle. This issue is now receiving awareness because the clearing of the forest has been accelerated by the policies of Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro. He took office in January 2019.

Jair Bolsonaro and his policies

The people of Brazil elected Bolsonaro, nicknamed “Trump of the Tropics,” to be their president due to untraditional campaign methods. Firstly, his campaign relied heavily on fake news and social media networks. Secondly, private sectors that have a lot to gain from the development of this rainforest funded his campaign. One of the first things he did when he took office was eliminate of the Ministry of the Environment and replace them with his own administration. Due to this, Bolsonaro was able to make over 1,000 regulatory changes without going through congress.

The impact

Monica de Bolle is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC. She warned that if the deforestation were to continue, the Amazon would stop producing enough rain to sustain itself by 2021. It will slowly degrade into a savannah once that tipping point has been reached.

The Amazon forest contains the most diverse amount of fauna and flora in the entire world. It is home to 390 billion trees, more than 16,000 plant species, and millions of animal species. Not to mention, it creates more than 20 percent of the entire world’s oxygen. It also contains a huge amount of carbon in its vegetation and soil. If it were to perish, all of the carbon within its soil would be released into the atmosphere and we would lose that flow of oxygen.

How can we help?

Avoiding beef and dairy is the single biggest way of reducing our environmental impact. The carbon produced from eating 52 burgers is equivalent to driving a car for 320 miles. Cattle is responsible for 14.5% of our total global carbon emissions. Eating less beef would also give cattle ranchers less incentive to burn the Amazon rainforest.