I am going to discuss the issue of deforestation. As with the global pandemic, I feel the understanding of the importance of this issue has been lost. The Amazon Rainforest is dangerously close to threat of destruction due to deforestation, with almost a fifth of the rainforest already destroyed. Urgent action is needed as scientists claim that it will only take 5% more of the rainforest to be destroyed to cause the whole rainforest to collapse. The reason for this is because the more destruction, the harder it will be for the rainforest to sustain itself. There will be an imbalance which would further create devastation towards the climate crisis. The rainforest which spans over eight rapidly developing countries would stop functioning and become drier, thus, releasing vast amounts of carbon, normally stored in the trees, into the atmosphere. This would ruin any hope to control climate change.
How can you help? There are many ways individuals can do their part to help save the Amazon. Firstly, grab your phone and sign the petition! Environmental charity, WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is pledging that people add their names to a petition which is campaigning for laws to be introduced which protect nature all over the world. I have ensured my name is attached to this petition, along with a few other petitions linked to deforestation and climate change. The government is currently considering new laws that could bring an end to the UK’s role in the destruction by ensuring products imported to the UK aren’t fuelling the demand for deforested land.
For the past year, the government's focus has been on controlling the pandemic. We must collectively remind politicians that the climate crisis is still just as important. The WWF website states that “in the past, recovery from a crisis has been at nature's expense” however by signing the petition you can urge politicians to prevent this from happening as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As I mentioned earlier, we cannot let the pandemic be an excuse to distract us from issues such as deforestation; if no positive impact is made by 2030, it will be too late to save it. Many people think because something is not happening in close proximity to them, they will not be impacted by this. The majority of pandemics start because of infectious diseases which are found within animals. When habitats of these animals are burned down, animals are formed into closer contact to each other and people, which creates the perfect environment for diseases to be spread between animals and people more freely.
Last year, Greenpeace called out Tesco and urged them to stop buying meat and dairy from companies involved in destroying the rainforest. The two UK companies Tesco uses to supply its meat - Moy Park and Tulip are controlled by JBS, who are known for their part in forest destruction. Tesco have been urged to reduce the amount of meat they sell by 50%. Producing meat destroys the rainforests as the land is cleared for beef production. This in turn increases climate temperatures due to the burning of the rainforests and accelerates global warming. The promise Tesco made to end its part in deforestation for commodities such as soy by 2020 has not been met, with the company subtly changing this pledge to be met by 2025.
According to an article by the BBC, fires in Brazil’s Amazon were slightly lower January through to July in 2020, in comparison to the same period last year. Despite this, there was a surge in the number of blazes from July to the end of the year, which began earlier in the year than would normally be expected. The fires set deliberately to clear the land for agricultural purposes, saw that the number of fires in July 2020 compared to previous years increased by 55.6%.
Furthermore, the largest ever amount of hectares of destroyed rainforest were recorded in April 2021, a mere few days ago. Figures from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) showed that 58,000 hectares of rainforest were destroyed - an increase of 43% compared to 2020’s figures. The rapid changes in the state of the Amazon are not even subtle, they are major changes which are dangerously verging on the edge of no return. Promises to cut deforestation are not being met at a time when they need to be. But, data from polls conducted by Greenpeace revealed, people do not know this is happening, they are partially oblivious to what the dangers are and what they can do to help. This is why I have conducted this blog post, as educating yourself and sharing with family and friends the extent of the impact of deforestation, alerts people to the urgent impacts deforestation is causing. Social media is the perfect place to share your thoughts on this matter, as your voice can be heard across the world by the click of a few buttons.
Smaller changes you can make in your everyday life include: reducing your consumption of paper, reducing your oil and beef consumption, donating to rainforest protection charities and looking into the ethics behind major businesses and holding them to account if they are conducting ethically destructive practises.