Sometimes, natural wildfires will start without the “help” of humans, though most fires are intentionally started. However, due to accelerated global temperatures, both intentional and natural forest fires get out of hand quite often.
What are the environmental implications of deforestation?
For starters, deforestation endangers unique animals that are native only to the forest. The Amazon is known for its biodiversity. Cutting down trees or burning them not only destroys unique native plant life, but also endangers so many diverse species.
Orangutans, for example, are one of the most (if not the most) intelligent animals on the planet after humans. However, their homes are constantly being threatened by deforestation, pushing them to the brink of extinction.
Sumatra and Borneo are the only places to find orangutans in the wild. There are appropriately 104,700 orangutans left in Borneo (endangered), and only 7,500 orangutans left in Sumatra (critically endangered). Compare that to 100 years ago when there were approximately 230,000 orangutans in the world altogether.
Sadly, it’s safe to say orangutans are an endangered species now. Fires endanger the orangutans and the smoke confuses them, leaving them vulnerable to death from loss of habitat – which translates into loss of food. Sometimes palm oil plantation workers will kill off the orangutans themselves because they’re labeled as “pests.”
Orangutans are far from the only animals that suffer due to deforestation though. Plenty others do as well – causing the entire ecosystem to become unbalanced. After all, the rainforest contains roughly 3 million
different species of animals and plants! That’s more biodiversity than anywhere else on Earth.
Aside from the severe impact deforestation has on animals, it’s also terrible for the environment on a much larger scale. Think about this: Trees absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen in return. Can you guess what happens when those trees are burned? They release all of that carbon dioxide right back into the environment.
Those greenhouse gas emissions contribute directly to global warming. And at the rate the forest is being burned, there’s way too much carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere to sit back and do nothing.
The Amazon provides more than one-fifth of the planet’s oxygen, so we really should be doing a lot more to conserve and protect it. If we’re going to keep the planet’s overall temperature below the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark, there’s no more room for increasing greenhouse gas emissions. After all, we only have 12 years to clean up our act, according to the UN climate change report
Along with environmental devastation, deforestation often negatively impacts developing countries the most, forcing local communities of Indigenous people to vacate their homes. How is this deemed acceptable behavior? It needs to stop.
So, perhaps it’s time we checked out some of those deforestation solutions I mentioned earlier, yeah?
What are some deforestation solutions I can implement?
I know it might seem impossible to make a difference in something this big. But it’s not. You don’t have to live in Brazil to make an impact. You don’t have to walk up to a forest fire and hose it down to make a difference (as amazing as that would be – leave it to the firefighters).
There are plenty of other ways to stop deforestation from happening. Here are some deforestation solutions you can act on right now.
2. Plant a tree.
If you’re the sort of person who needs to do something tangible (with your hands) to help, then I suggest planting a tree! Trees are so important in numerous ways: They provide shelter for animals and insects, capture carbon dioxide, and release oxygen into the atmosphere. If you have your own backyard, consider planting a tree in it. If you live in an apartment, you can still plant a tree! Just look up how to plant a tree in your neighborhood. I know NYC offers a ton of resources for street tree planting
: You can literally request a tree be planted on your street, or do it yourself!
3. Start using Ecosia as your search engine.
They plant trees while you search the web! It’s pretty simple: You search the web with Ecosia, search ads generate income for Ecosia, and then Ecosia uses this income to plant trees. So far, they’ve planted over 65 million trees, and counting!
4. Reduce your consumption of beef and dairy products. The fires burning in the Amazon this week were literally started because of animal agriculture – they wanted to clear the land for cattle grazing. And look how out of hand it got! It’s safe to say we need to stop supporting these industries. Rainforest beef is typically found in fast-food hamburgers or processed beef products. With that said, it’s best to cut back on beef and dairy consumption entirely. If you must consume it, get it from a local source you can trust isn’t going to burn down a forest to raise their cattle.
5. Avoid buying furniture and paper products that come from the Amazon.
Trees are constantly being logged to create these items! Instead, choose secondhand furniture whenever possible. Also, reduce the amount of paper products you bring into your life by switching over to reusable napkins and reusable paper towels. If you have to buy new items, follow the frog when shopping for Rainforest Alliance Certified Products
6. Stop purchasing food and other products made with palm oil.
Did you know lots of processed foods use palm oil
? Sadly, Oreo cookies are guilty of this (as if it wasn’t bad enough their packaging was wasteful). That’s just one example though – there are tons more. Make sure you look at the ingredients label on everything you buy – if it has palm oil? Put it back on the shelf! Beauty products and hygiene products (like bar soap and shampoo) also sometimes contain palm oil – avoid these whenever possible!
7. Sign the Save the Amazon Greenpeace petition. Make your voice heard! It only takes a few seconds to sign and doesn’t cost you a dime. Plus, you’ll be telling the Brazilian government to save the Amazon rainforest and protect the lands of indigenous and traditional communities. I signed, you should too!
8. When election time comes, VOTE for leaders who understand the urgency of the climate crisis. We need people in office that are willing to take bold action for the planet! After all, this is an issue that doesn’t affect just one group – it affects us all. Consider also getting involved in local government too – your local officials should care about the environment too, so be sure to vote on a local scale as well!
9. Get your food from local, sustainable farmers.
At this point, I’d really hope you’re already shopping at your local farmers market
. If not, start now! The farmers market is amazing because all the produce is grown locally, pesticide-free. You get to actually develop a rapport with the farmers who grew your food, and put a face behind it too. That’s so much better than buying food that’s been grown unsustainably overseas then shipped to you from far away (which results in further emissions).
10. Spread the word. The Amazon was burning for 16 days and there was literally zero media coverage of it. The biggest thing we can do right now is spread the word so this doesn’t go unnoticed! Please share this article to help get it in front of as many eyes as you can. Everyone should know what’s going on, after all. The more people know, the more likely something will get done about it! So please share this article if it’s the only thing you do.
What are some action tips you have to help save the forests?
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