The Low Down
According to scientists and environmentalists, fires have raged at an unprecedented rate in the Amazon rainforest over the last year. Using satellite imaging, the National Institute for Space Research has monitored these fires and reported an 80% increase from 2018 alone. Current estimates put the number of fires in 2019 could be around 75,000 according to the chart below.
Scientists are especially concerned over this prospect due to its potential effects on climate change. The Amazon is often referred to as the “earth’s lungs” as it produces over 20% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. If this trend continues, the repercussions could be fatal.
Unfortunately, this past Wednesday has only added to that concern. According to Brazilian officials, the current fire in Brazil may be the most devastating of 2019. Since it began, dramatic images and videos have flooded social media displaying massive plumes of smoke rising above the rainforest. Images have even show jet-black skies over San Paolo, more than 1,700 miles from the fire.
How Did This Happen?
As of right now, the cause of this fire is uncertain. Though many are blaming it on climate change, that may not be the case. Many Brazilian citizens are holding their far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, accountable for loosening Brazil's environmental protection laws. In response, Bolsonaro has similarly accused nongovernmental organizations of setting the fires in order to frame the Brazilian government. So far, these claims have not been substiated.
Another theory has arisen though. It may be a long shot to believe, but if you’re like us, and question everything - it might just make some sense.
It goes like this - back in July of 2019, a tribe in Ecuador that calls the rainforest home won a lawsuit. Now, this wasn’t just any lawsuit. This was a lawsuit in which they defeated the likes of their government and big oil conglomerates. Yes, a tribe in Ecuador - beat the government at their own game. In winning this lawsuit, it was decided that the government could no longer sell land in the rainforest to oil companies to drill for oil in the rainforest. It protected over 500,000 acres of land in the Amazon Rainforest...and now there is a huge portion of land in the Amazon completely engulfed in flames.
Yes, the fires ARE in Brazil not Ecuador. Yes, there are nearly 2,000 miles between where the fires started and where this lawsuit was fought and won. But, the fire is so huge it stretches from Brazil to the tip of Peru and appears as though it could reach Ecuador. Check the map below.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that this tribe didn’t fight to protect this land for themselves. It was to protect the entirety of the Amazon, the people that inhabit it, and the wildlife too. One of the tribe members was quoted saying, “This victory is for my ancestors. It's for our forest and future generations. And it's for the whole world.” These tribe members are not selfish people. Sure, they may have different cultural values that (in our digital age) might be hard to understand. But, this doesn’t separate them from the fact that they pushed this lawsuit for years to protect not just one piece of the Amazon, but all of it.
Ok, you’re probably wondering where in the f*ck I am going with this - just hang tight. We’re almost there.
There are probably a hundred (if not more) theories you could spew out from this information. Is it possible that the government and the big oil conglomerates were so pissed off that they decided to throw a temper tantrum and torch a huge part of the forest? Sh*t, it’s unlikely but still possible. We’ve seen other world governments do worse things than this before in the past. But, this doesn’t really serve a purpose, and they wouldn’t really get anything out of just randomly burning thousands of acres of “the earth’s lungs.”
But, the big oil conglomerates would have something to gain out of this if they REALLY wanted to occupy that land over in Ecuador. If there were little to no natural resources in the other parts of the Amazon after the fires, big oil would have no choice but to go back over to Ecuador, fight the lawsuit in hopes of it being overturned, and start drilling happily again.
I’m not claiming any of these are true, but I do think it is important to note these things so people can formulate their own opinions on it. I wouldn’t want to impose or force my beliefs down your throat, I’d rather give you information so you can come to a conclusion on your own.
One last thing to make note of - researchers admit that the fires burning now are mostly happening in previously deforested areas. According to Mikaela Weisse, a manager of Global Forest Watch, “natural fires are very rare in the Amazon, so all, or almost all, the fires we are seeing are set by humans.”
Whether or not these fires have been done intentionally or accidentally, one thing is for certain: humans are the ones to blame.
Do you have a theory of your own or do you think this is just another tragic coincedence? Let us know, no matter what it is, we love to hear your thoughts.