Updated: Sep 10, 2019
Go on any form of social media and you are likely to see it: The vast, beautiful Amazon rainforest is burning. The Amazon rainforest is one of Earth’s most diverse habitats, providing a home to millions of plant and animal species. Many say it's the lungs of our planet.
The Amazon rainforest contains 1.4 billion acres of dense forests, half of the planet's remaining tropical forests and plays a crucial role in the Earth’s health, as a large percentage of the world’s oxygen supply results from the Amazon.
Many students at Salisbury University fear the effects the fires will have on our planet. Junior Meg Williams stated on the impact of the fires, “The rainforest is basically like the Earth’s filter, so it is going to have a huge effect on fossil fuels going into the air and not being able to filter as much of that out; it’s only going to get worse ...”
For an issue that is threatening to immensely worsen the condition of our already endangered planet, it has been highly under-broadcasted, especially in the sense of news channels. In fact, many SU students declined to be interviewed about the burning of the Amazon, due to lack of knowledge about the situation as a whole.
However, the students who did know about the situation first learned about it through social media. Junior Jessica Sharp, an environmental studies major, said, “I heard about the Amazon burning first through social media, and I was kind of shocked that I didn’t hear about it through, like, local news networks like CNN or Fox."
Although the cause of the burning of the rainforest is not clearly specified, there are several different causes being discussed among students at Salisbury, as well as throughout the news outlets. One possible cause is that the Brazilians themselves are burning the rainforest so that it can be used for agriculture.
“I saw something on the news … that sometimes the people of Brazil will start the fires so that they can have fields for their cows so that they can sell them, so that could be a cause, but there also could be other things,” sophomore Hallie Hyers stated.
Another possible theory on the cause of the rainforest burning is that large companies are exploiting the land, going against the wants of the villagers and thus are causing the fires.
“I believe the cause of the burning is big corporate businesses, because I know [in] villages around the Amazon rainforest, they [the villagers] think that the place is sacred. They don’t want anything done bad to it, so this [the fire] is coming from all over the world and [the companies] just abstract without their permission, and they [the villagers] can’t really do anything,” Sharp stated.
A third theory is that the rising levels of climate change and global warming are leading to the fires and causing them to continue to burn.
“I think that it probably has something to do with climate change and raising temperatures. Just like in California, there has been an increase in wildfires, and now the Amazon,” Williams stated.
Despite the many different theories on what could be causing the Amazon fires, there is one common agreement: that something needs to be done to stop the fires. Still, many students believe that it is important to respect Brazil while saving the Amazon.
“Its difficult [to address the situation], because it is important for them to have agriculture and to be able to make a living, but also, it’s not in the world’s interest to let the fire keep burning, so it’s important to intervene, and I think other countries can help them, too. The United States could’ve sent help and can send more help to help prevent the fires and to educate people about why it’s not good,” Hyers stated.
Sharp believes that more news coverage would help spread awareness and cause more people to realize how big of an issue the burning of the Amazon rainforest is. She also believes that if the fires are caused by corporate businesses, the businesses need to help end the burning.
“I think the situation should definitely be addressed through the global news networks because I think social media is great, but a lot of the older generations don’t use social media, so I think it should be brought there. I believe that the businesses that are involved taking the resources from the rainforests should have [to] kind of give back to it. [For example] they should help donate to the causes to stop it or perhaps help restore it,” Sharp stated.
As the fires continue to burn throughout the Amazon rainforest, it is becoming clearer and clearer that efforts are needed immediately to extinguish the fires, so that the world doesn’t become even more endangered than it already is. As the World Wildlife Fund stated, “If this vital ecosystem continues to burn, the implications for life on Earth will be astronomical.”
By LAURA AMRHEIN
Featured photo by Getty Images.