You Know The Amazon Rainforest Is On Fire, But Here’s What You Can Do

Right, what’s going on?

We’ll cut to the chase: you’re probably already aware some very, very serious fires are currently burning through the Amazon basin. NASA estimates the South American rainforest is being ravaged by more than 2,500 individual fires, destroying thousands of hectares of land in northern Brazil and neighbouring countries. Smoke has filled the air in some regions; residents in São Paulo, a few thousand kilometres southeast of the most significant blazes, have reported darkened skies.

It’s not good. In fact, the fires are significantly more intense than usual. While the Amazon is prone to a higher incidence of fires in the dry season, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) says the Amazon has experienced an 88% increase in fires over the same time period last year. While the blazes are devastating to the region itself, they are also damaging an ecosystem which is vital to life as we know it. The Amazon basin produces about 20% of the world’s oxygen and serves as an enormous carbon trap. When it goes up in smoke, that carbon is spewed back into the atmosphere. Nobody on Earth wants to deal with that.

What can I do to stop these fires?

Nothing. Even Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said his nation would struggle to combat the fires, yesterday telling reporters “there aren’t the resources. This chaos has arrived.”

These blazes already appear to be unprecedented, and will likely require an equally historic response to bring under control.

Are you sure?



I know.

What now?

While these fires are likely to incinerate huge swathes of vital rainforest, we have a pretty good idea why they’re so intense – and what needs to be done to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist who only came into power in January, promised to loosen environmental protections to permit more farming and logging in the Amazon. Agriculturalists seized the opportunity, resulting in a record number of blazes now burning out of control.

Speaking to Reuters, INPE researcher Alberto Setzer said “the dry season creates the favourable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.”

But Bolsonaro has refuted links between his radical new policies and the unprecedented blazes, telling reporters “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada [burnoff].”

He has also blamed nongovernmental organisations for starting the fires, saying they have acted to bring his government into disrepute. Bolsonaro has refused to provide any evidence to back up those claims.

Are you saying far-right governments tend to prop up environmentally disastrous industries for insanely myopic reasons?


This shit sucks, man. What can we do now?

This problem is political and ideological as much as it is environmental, and key stakeholders recognise this fact. The Rainforest Alliance today announced it is directing 100% of all proceeds to frontline services which fight for local Indigenous rights and the use of sustainable agriculture in the region, while working to “pressure the Brazilian government to conserve the Amazon in a way that supports people and nature.”

In response to the blazes, the Amazon Conservation Association reaffirmed its commitment to working “directly with land owners to help them manage their land in a more sustainable manner” and while providing the public with “key data on deforestation that is happening now so that they can compel authorities to take action.”

The Rainforest Trust is of the same mindset, saying the current blazes are “fueled by an ever-warming climate and the relentless clearing of forests, and often driven by politics, misinformation or the pursuit of short-term economic gain”.

Flinging any of those groups a few bucks seems like a good start. At home, voting for candidates who refuse to support environmentally calamitous projects will go a fair way to stopping the destruction of our own vital ecosystems.

Is there any good news to come out of this?

Not really, unless the world takes these fires as a drastic call to action.