The Amazon is vital to the well being of the earth. Alex Brekke suggests we call it the heart of the earth. Photo: Niel Palmer/CIAT


Stop the devastation of the Amazon - support the indigenous peoples

The fires in the Amazon have caused great concern around the world. The deforestation and burning down of the rainforest has a major impact on our climate - and we all bear the responsibility for it. Now we need to support all the indigenous people who are fighting to defend the Amazon. It is the best way to protect the rainforest, writes Alex Brekke from the organization Amazon Watch.

The fires in the Amazon have received a lot of attention around the world, but it is important that everyone understands the reason and solution to the crisis. The fires are only part of a much more extensive problem.

The Amazon is more threatened than it has ever been before. These include industrial extraction (oil, mines and the like), livestock farming (for example, the production of meat and leather), soybean farms, the construction of a whole host of giant dams and motorways and more. Everything is financed by governments, multinational companies, big banks and by ordinary people who ultimately buy the products that are manufactured.

The Amazon is home to almost 400 different groups of indigenous peoples. These people depend on the rainforest for their physical and cultural survival and have been its stewards for millennia. Indigenous peoples represent about 4 percent of the earth's population, but they protect 80 percent of the world's biological diversity.

The best way to stop deforestation is to recognize the right of indigenous peoples to live where they live and to involve them in the management of the rainforest. Areas where indigenous peoples actually have control over their territories are more conservative than even national parks and nature reserves.

Deforestation will solve Brazil's economic problems

Brazil, which controls most of the Amazon, has a new president this year named Jair Bolsonaro. He has an enormously poor view of women, has expressed himself as a proud homophobic and voted for racist and anti-democratic views. Not only that, he also wants to solve Brazil's growing economic problems by ravaging the Amazon. This will result in huge deforestation and emissions of large amounts of greenhouse gases.

In order to be able to implement his plans, he wants to put an end to the activities of environmental organizations in Brazil and remove the obstacles that exist to being able to devastate the rainforest. In addition, his Minister of Agriculture Tereza Cristina has selected an area as large as France for felling.

But the burden does not fall solely on the Brazilian government. It is a systematic problem that has existed for a long time in all the countries that include the Amazon. The western world also bears a large part of the blame as it is this part of the world that contributes both to the financing of industrial extraction, but is also the consumer of all the products that are produced.

Everyone is responsible for the Amazon

We all live on the same planet and we all share the responsibility. American and European companies must take responsibility for their involvement in this ongoing tragedy because they encourage and finance deforestation. We must continue to put pressure on the Brazilian government (and all the other governments in the region) to ensure the protection of the Amazon and its indigenous peoples, who are on the front lines defending the rainforest. We must each look at ourselves and do what we can to protect our rainforests and our planet for future generations.

This year's forest fires in Brazil increased by over 80 percent compared to this time last year - and over half of the fires were in the Amazon region. The Amazon has long been considered fire-resistant due to its humid climate, but due to climate change, the rainforest has been hit by more frequent and intense droughts. In addition, many of these fires have been deliberately started by farmers who have expressed that they have been spurred on by Bolsonaro's rhetoric about opening up more rainforests to agriculture.

Indigenous peoples are trying to stop industrial extraction and deforestation by asserting their right to the territories they have lived in for thousands of years. But they are exposed to state-sanctioned threats, violence and in some cases murder. All the indigenous peoples who are fighting to defend the Amazon need our support - because the best way to protect the rainforest is to defend the rights of indigenous peoples.

The rainforest is the planet's best defense

A rainforest that is doing well is one of our planet's best defenses against climate change. The world's tropical forests - and the Amazon is the largest of these - currently absorb about 20 percent of the carbon dioxide produced from the burning of fossil fuels.

In addition, one-fifth of all freshwater is in the Amazon, and it plays an important role in regulating global and regional climate change. Water condensation, evaporation and transpiration across the Amazon are key drivers of the global atmosphere's circulation.

The Amazon is the most species-rich tropical rainforest in existence. Just one acre of the Amazon contains more species of trees than are found throughout North America. The biodiversity is simply enormous.

In everyday language, the Amazon is usually called for the lungs of the earth, and although it is not entirely technically correct (as climate deniers are often quick to point out), I suggest another name that even better describes what the Amazon means to our planet; The Amazon is the heart of the earth!

I hope to see you at Odenplan in Stockholm now on Saturday (7/9) at 12, for a demonstration for the Amazon.

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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