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The open Amazon and its enemies: a call for action and optimism

The open Amazon and its enemies: a call for action and optimism

The Amazon, now on fire, has become the central political and geopolitical hot spot for humanity’s right to its own future. Optimism is the gasoline that must feed the fight. 

Tree in the Brazilian rainforest | Photo: Pablo Albarenga, all rights reserved.

June and July have been the hottest months on record in the Western Hemisphere as the climate crisis escalates. This summer, the ice in Greenland has been melting at an unseen rate under an unprecedented heat wave. Droughts and wildfires are on the rise ravaging significant forest surfaces, and the role of the rainforest as a carbon dioxide absorber is being jeopardized by a substantial acceleration in deforestation efforts.

The Amazon basin, which contains 40% of the world’s rainforest, plays a very complex yet central role as a buffer of climate change. It functions as a cooler of the atmosphere through moisture evaporation and it produces its own rainfall in the dry season while also capturing carbon and acting as the Earth’s lungs.

Aerial view of the Amazon River near Manaus, Brazil, at dawn. | Photo: Pablo Albarenga. All Rights Reserved

But lately, the Amazon’s vulnerability has become apparent, as fires have been spreading at an unprecedented rate. As Leonardo DiCaprio put it to his 34 million Instagram followers in a post: “the lungs of the Earth are in flames.” Data released by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research shows that from January to July, 4.6 million acres of the Brazilian Amazon went ablaze, a 62 percent increase over last year. We are facing a full scale ecocide case here.

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