The sustainability of the Amazon rainforest is in peril with the increase in industrial activities. Scientists caution that the world's largest rainforest is getting close to a tipping point owing to decades of anthropogenic impacts and climate change.
The Amazon basin carries the term "rain forest", given the area's exceptional wetness. But over the years, rising temperatures, forest fires, droughts, and deforestation have severely disrupted this equilibrium, resulting in an increasing number of deforested zones. The year 2020 was the rainforest's highest deforestation surge (11,088 sq km) since 2008. Unfortunately, the situation is only worsening. According to some of the latest research on the effects of forest degradation, over 50% of the Amazon rainforest is cut down or harmed in some form. Degraded areas account for about 38%, and 17% for deforested land.
Losing about 10,000 acres a day and 18 trees per second, the 11 million years old basin is warming rapidly, increasing the area's dry season and potential calamities. The loss of trees is impacting the frequency of rainfall and spiking temperatures, resulting in the destabilization of the atmosphere. According to David Lapola, a researcher at the State University of Campinas at Brazil's Center for Meteorological and Climatic Research Applied to Agriculture, a plant's transpiration decreases as CO2 levels rise, resulting in less precipitation and humidity. "If we continue with this pattern, in about 15 years we will have an Amazon emitting much more CO2 than it absorbs," said Lapola.
The degradation of the Amazon poses serious international repercussions as the forest stores up to 120 billion metric tons of carbon. Estimated to be over 12 years' worth of current global emissions. According to the calculations of experts, vegetation loss produces between 50 and 200 million tonnes of CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions in a single year, which is comparable to the carbon release from deforestation. If the trees are wiped clean, the majority of the carbon will enter the atmosphere, which will globally threaten the earth's climate. Brazilian rainforests, accounting for around 60% of the Amazon which covers 1.5 million square miles, but 19.8% of that area is already cleared, with heavy deforestation zones in the south and east. While the remaining areas remain unaffected, they are also at risk of damage.
The nucleus of the world's largest and most diverse tropical rainforest must be preserved to prevent a catastrophic outcome. Scientists argue that simply talking about taking action to stop deforestation is insufficient. According to geographer Marcos Pedlowski, from the State University of Northern Rio de Janeiro, and co-author of one of the first Brazilian studies, "we can no longer talk about preventing deforestation without talking about degradation... it is necessary to readjust the discussion on the conservation of the Amazon, the degradation process can no longer be ignored."
The significance of the Amazon is acknowledged worldwide. Unrestricted deforestation, however, is tipping the Amazon past its breaking point. It is on the brink of losing its ability to keep its harmonious balance. So, how can you help?
How to Help the Amazon Rainforest
The enormous river basin dominating South America hosts around 400 billion trees and is an unsurpassed haven for biodiversity. The region is one of nature's greatest riches, hosting a wide range of natural and cultural wonders. It also plays a significant role in balancing earth's natural systems. Such a vital player deserves to occupy our thoughts and command our actions. So, while we may not be able to directly help the forest, there are ways you can safeguard the Amazon from a distance.
- Cut down on paper consumption
Paper comes from trees, and trees grow in the forest. The forests provide us with clean air and keep carbon in check. You can contribute to easing the strain on the forests by making small daily life changes like taking digital notes, using both sides of the paper if you must, carrying reusable bags to avoid supermarket's single-use bags, and staying away from disposable paper plates, cups, napkins, etc.
- Eat less beef
Processed beef products contain meat from the rainforest. According to estimates, cattle ranching occupies around 70% of the Amazon's deforested territory. By consuming less beef, you'll lower the market's demand and also lessen the clearance of land for cattle.
- Be mindful of your purchases
Find out the sources of your consumption, from food to clothes, bags, and furniture. For instance, is your work tote bag made with natural fiber like organic cotton, or is it made of leather? Healthy lands and forests are what safeguard the ecosystems, facilitating the flourishing of flora and fauna. By choosing products made of eco-friendly ingredients and materials, you support the preservation of forests, soil, and wildlife.
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- Make yourself heard
A large number of innocent Amazon residents' lives and well beings are negatively impacted by environmental damage, yet they frequently lack the resources and support to voice their worries. Raise awareness on their behalf about the preservation of the Amazon. Let your loved ones know about the value of Amazon, and ask them to share it with people in their lives.
- Donate to rainforest communities
Support the rights of rainforest communities and contribute to the preservation of the world's rainforests by donating. The people living in such regions are reliant on the Amazon for their survival. With your contribution, rainforest communities can be better stewards of the land and its biodiversity, and fight back against logging and fossil fuel operations that seek to be destructive. Some of the websites you can help with the initiative include Rainforest Foundation US, Rainforest Trust, The Amazon Conservation Team, International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs, and Rainforest Action Network, among others.