Student Writer | Isabella Haigh
Over the last three months, Brazil has faced one of the worst forest fires ever in its history. Not only has this been detrimental for the agriculture and natural wildlife of the Amazon Rainforest, it will also have a larger impact on the oxygen produced that we all globally benefit from. The news is constantly filled with updates about the forest fires, yet rarely do we get an insiders perspective on what is really happening.
Over the last week, I interviewed a Brazilian friend of mine called Natasha. I asked for her perspective as a Brazilian on the Rainforest fires and what the general feeling is in Brazil about the state of climate change. She said, “I think it is shocking with the lack of action that has been taken by the Brazilian government, which has allowed for the natural beauty of Brazil to turn into ashes”. She argued that more actions need to be put in place to stop farmers and loggers from clearing the land, adding that she believes President Bolsonaro has only encouraged tree-clearing within the rainforest. “I have little faith these people will be stopped. The majority of Brazilians are horrified with the fires in the Amazon as they know the Amazon is a major asset for Brazilian people and Brazil’s image,” said Natasha.
Only recently has there been awareness to the indigenous tribes of the Amazon who have directly been affected by the fires. Vice reported that whilst there has previously been tensions between different tribes, since the fighting many have come together in protest of industrial agriculture led by big corporations such as COSTCO. I asked Natasha whether the indigenous people’s voices had been heard in Brazilian media: “Personally, I have not seen or heard anything from indigenous people on the Brazilian media or how they are suffering. I cannot imagine what it is like for your home to be burnt into ash. They do not deserve this,” she said.
There are many different groups of people who can be blamed for the fires.
Speaking on who she thought was to blame, Natasha said, “I believe it’s the lack of action from the President and smaller groups of people for agricultural purposes”. It has been said, however, that President Bolsonaro endorses the burning of the forest for capitalist gains.
She also mentioned the worrying amount of carbon monoxide that is spreading throughout the country and into neighbouring Bolivia due to the fires. It has been reported the smoke has travelled as far as the Atlantic coast as well as into the Amazon basin which is home to three million species of plants and animals. Trees and forests are crucial for regulating global warming as they absorb millions of tonnes of carbon every year.
If we are to save the rainforest, we need to act now. We need to hold ourselves responsible as well as corporate businesses and take our future into our own hands. Otherwise, the situation will continue to deteriorate.