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Right now, the world’s largest rainforest is burning, and has been for three weeks. One of the most powerful tools we have in combating climate change, the Amazon produces 20 per cent of the Earth’s oxygen, earning it the nickname “the planet’s lungs”. Despite covering just one per cent of the world’s surface, it is home to one in 10 of all wildlife species we know, and more than one million indigenous people.
This year, 73,000 fires have been recorded in the rainforest, an 85 per cent increase from 2018. The world is outraged and devastated, but there are ways to help, whether it’s donating money or using your voice. Here are six ways that you can make an impact.
1. Act now
Many feel helpless in the face of a catastrophe so far from home, but there are ways you can take action. Donate directly to frontline Amazon groups working to defend, protect and stop the fires. Money given to the Rainforest Action Network will help in its Protect An Acre programme, which aims to limit deforestation and support indigenous communities. Similarly, Amazon Watch helps protect the rainforest, defend indigenous rights and address climate change. WWF supports both communities and wildlife with emergency relief, while raising awareness and advocating for more protective laws in the Brazilian parliament.
2. Sign petitions
Make your voice heard by signing petitions. Greenpeace’s Save the Amazon petition calls on the government to put the climate crisis at the top of global agendas, which means discussions at events such as the G7 summit will centre around protecting the lands and lives of communities and ecosystems in the rainforest.
3. Use your platform
Share this story on any social media platform to educate and inform others about the severity of this crisis. Don’t allow this crisis to get bogged down below celebrity gossip on your newsfeed. Create your own content, share posts, tag news agencies and influencers to show your outrage – the more airtime this crisis gets, the more money will be donated, the more petitions signed, and the more likely it is that governments will take action.
4. Educate yourself
Although fires in the rainforest are often the result of natural wildfires during Brazil’s dry season, land is increasingly being cleared by fire for agricultural use, such as cattle ranching. Beef sourced from the rainforest is largely used by fast-food companies and in processed beef products. Reduce your beef consumption and support companies committed to responsible farming methods.
Signing petitions undoubtedly helps with urgent climate emergencies, but voting is what ultimately makes the most difference. In your next election, vote for leaders committed to tackling the climate crisis, promising to take action and change policies.
6. Continue to support
As the flames die down and the shock of the fires fade, so too will memories of the crisis. But the horrific impact of this disaster will not just disappear – people’s and animals’ homes and livelihoods have been destroyed, and the damage done to the environment is irreversible. Continue to use your voice, support charities and donate when you can to prevent this catastrophe from happening again.
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