Amazonia on Fire: 'The Earth Isn’t Dying. It’s Being Killed.'

This story is part of Treehugger's news archive. Learn more about our news archiving process or read our latest news.
Senior woman holding sign that says "What happens in the Amazon doesn't stay in the Amazon"

Charles Edward Miller / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Amazon rainforest doesn't need prayers, it needs protectors.

The Amazon rainforest has hit a new record – and not the good kind. With 72,843 fires detected so far this year by Brazil’s National Institute for Space research (INPE), it is the highest number of fires in the country since records began in 2013. The increase marks an 83 percent surge over the same period in 2018.

The Cause of the Fires

CNN reports that experts believe the wildfires were set by cattle ranchers and loggers who want to clear and utilize the land, emboldened by the country's right-wing, pro-business president, Jair Bolsonaro. As Reuters notes, "the unprecedented surge in wildfires has occurred since Bolsonaro took office in January vowing to develop the Amazon region for farming and mining, ignoring international concern over increased deforestation." Dan Rather agrees.

Yesterday, Lloyd wrote a post titled, "There aren't any climate deniers anymore. At this point, they are all climate arsonists and nihilists." Meanwhile, today, I came across an Instagram post with video by Paul Rosolie, who is in Brazil right now. It begins with this quote:

The earth isn’t dying. It’s being killed.

Lloyd and Paul are on the same page. The devastation that's happening to life on the planet is not a passive thing; we are actively destroying it all. This is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, but it is a narrative of which we should be hearing more.

Paul Rosolie, Amazon Expert

Paul is a naturalist, explorer, author, and award-winning wildlife filmmaker who is an expert on the Amazon. For the past decade he has specialized in threatened ecosystems and species in countries like Indonesia, Brazil, India, and Peru. In the Amazon, Paul has described new ecosystems and his memoir on Amazonian wildlife and exploration, "Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon," has garnered critical acclaim.

There has been a lot of ink this week on the Amazon fires – meanwhile, #PrayforAmazonia and various iterations thereof have been trending on social media. But Paul was kind enough to let us share his Instagram post – the footage and his text is really to the point and expresses things much more urgently than I can do from a desk in Brooklyn. He wrote:

"On the ground footage of the Amazon burning. You can see the clouds of smoke blocking out the sun, swallowing the jungle. You cannot imagine what is being lost. The incredible complexity of ancient trees and wildlife... The self-sustaining moisture cycle of the Amazon has its limits. Make no mistake: the fate of the environment is the defining issue of our time. It transcends culture, economy, political borders, ideology - because as a global society we all depend on this system for life."

Here's the post. Beware of an F-bomb in there, well-placed as it may be. (And if the video doesn't display on your browser, I encourage you to click the link to Instagram to view it.)

President Bolsonaro says that the country lacks the resources to fight the fires. How convenient. (Hey, maybe they just need rakes.) The planet is going to hell in a handbasket, and humankind only has itself to blame. What's it going to take to turn this disaster around? Are oil and exotic timber and hamburgers all really worth the demise of life on Earth?

Read more uplifting news here: Massive new report proves that humans are the worst species.