World On Fire


Photographs courtesy of Giang Nguyen

The world is on fire. No, literally on fire, and the news seems to be forgetting that people want to know when something is wrong with our planet. This time it is the Amazon rainforest in Brazil that is burning down, and no one knows what is going to happen next.

    It is important not to just talk about the what, but the how. The Amazon forest is not burning just because of a freak accident or controlled fire gone haywire; it is burning because it was deliberately set on fire by humans in order to make way for farmland, oil rigging, or logging. Coupled with an ongoing drought, this can make normally small fires even bigger and more out of control. These are exactly the conditions that are seen with the Amazon rainforest, and this is not the first wildfire there, either. In fact, hundreds of smaller fires happen throughout the rainforest every year in order to support this unsustainable work.

       As a disclaimer, we should not confuse unsustainable fires with those fires used by Amazonian tribes. These indigenous people burn down small plots of the Amazon forest, use it for a few years, then move onto other plots of the forest to allow it to recover. The type of forest fire that we are seeing in Amazon is not the sustainable type, and these should not be confused with one another. In fact, many people are working towards more sustainable farming in order to prevent this type of deforestation from happening.

     But you might be wondering: where do I fit in with all this? Global warming has always been a hot topic (pun not intended) and something that we’ve been hearing for most of our lives. However, most of us do not know what to do when it comes to actually helping the planet. Sure we can recycle, but one of the best ways to help the planet is slowly become self-sufficient with the items we buy and food we consume. That might be harder being a college student, but having an indoor herb plant never hurts. Becoming more informed is another step to becoming an activist for the rainforest, and informing people about what is happening to the forest can help them better make an educated decision on how they can help the forest.