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Millennium Post

Because it matters a great deal

Because it matters a great deal

As Brazil burns in historic wildfires, there is a need worldwide to understand why this is not a matter confined to rainforests of Amazon. Known as the lungs of the planet, the forest has been up in flames for past several weeks and particularly in the last two weeks, matters have compounded to unprecedented extents. About half of Brazil is engulfed in smoke which has travelled as far as the Atlantic coast. Not containing this with urgent measures could lead to the worst global climate disaster in recent times. It is widely argued and accused that these fires are set by cattle ranchers and loggers who want clear land for their business, and are emboldened to do so given the pro-business state policies of the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro. While the politics around it is a debate for another column, a very striking predicament here is that the environment and nature are compromised for non-generic human gain by just a handful of people who wield a huge amount of power to make lasting changes but who invariably abuse their power leaving nature and ordinary mankind at the receiving end. This year's fires fit in an established seasonal agricultural pattern and it is reported and explained that the vast majority of these fires (nearly 99 per cent) are human-lit and the most favourable time for this is the dry season when it is easier for the humid rainforest of Amazonia to catch fire. The peak of the dry season, however, is still to come in September. Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) informs that the number of fires in Brazil is up to 80 per cent higher than last year and ore than half are in the Amazon region, spelling disaster for the local environment and ecology and aggravating massively on a global scale. The Amazonian rainforest is a repository of rich biodiversity and is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. Producing one-fifth of the world's oxygen and about 20 per cent of its freshwater, it is also home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous communities whose lives and homelands are continually under threat due to the persistent encroachment by the capitalist business vultures who do not hesitate to vandalise the resource-rich environment for sinister economic interests. Thus, these human-induced fires can range from a small-scale agricultural practice to deforestation for a mechanised and modern agribusiness project, as we see ablaze in Brazilian Amazon. This man-made disaster means that nature is repeatedly being taken for granted and that nothing is more important for humans than realising their own short-sighted visions at the cost of anything they think does not concern them. In this case, it is the environment. The Amazon rainforest is a crucial system that contributes to the water cycle on a global scale. The rain produced by the Amazon travels across to the Andes mountain range. Moisture from the Atlantic falls on the rainforest and eventually evaporates back into the atmosphere. It is established that Amazon rainforest has the ability to produce at least half of the rain it receives. This cycle is a delicate balance with impact on all the major parts of the world. Needless to say that there is a very urgent need to heed this balance. Necessary policy intervention is, of course, the urgent need of the hour but the very fundamental understanding that nature is not the means but the very locus of survival must be internalised by all. The Amazon is exceedingly important for the future of mankind and planet Earth, essentially for its capacity to stave off the worst of climate change. It is time the world comes together to prevent from compounding this untold destruction staring humanity in the face.

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