Maryam and Nivaal Rehman | Toronto, Canada
It was devastating for us to hear that the incredible Amazon - the forest that was featured in children's books that we read growing up, and movies like "Rio," is burning. This means that our home, Earth, is burning. According to National Geographic, the Amazon produces 20% of the world's oxygen! The massive deforestation that is currently taking place under President Bolsonaro is putting one of the world's most important and diverse environments under danger and is contributing to the global climate crisis.
Through social media, many have been raising awareness about the issue, using the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia, and the world is now more aware of the crisis that is taking place in Brazil because of this. Our friends Luiza Yoshida and Alyssa Gandini are both locals from São Paulo, a city in Brazil which is 2,790 km away from the Amazon, but was still impacted by the intense forest fires.
Luiza was in Sao Paulo during the time that the smoke from the forest fires made the sky in the city become dark grey at 3PM during the day. She told us what her experience was like when she saw the change:
"It was really creepy. I didn't understand at all what was happening. It was like 3:00 PM and it looked like it was 6 in the evening or later. The sky was literally dark grey. I sent a picture to my aunt saying that it got dark at 3PM just like it would in the Netherlands. But I didn't understand what was happening until I saw the news. The owner of huge farms and our politicians are killing our country. Me and my family were planning our trip to Amazonia soon, because in a few years there won't be any of it left." - Luiza Yoshida
While Alyssa is not in the country right now, she shared her thoughts on the situation as well,
"I'm not in Brazil right now, but I can share a little bit of what I know. It's really, really devastating actually. Both physically and emotionally. It's been really terrible to endure this." - Alyssa Gandini
As activists with a particular focus on Climate Justice, it is deeply concerning to us that the Amazon is in danger. But the question becomes, how can we help diminish the negative impacts that this massive deforestation is having? How can we work together to ensure that we protect the Amazon, and ensure that this important part of our planet is here for generations to come?
1. Use Ecosia as your search engine
One thing that you can do immediately, is use "Ecosia" instead of Google to make your searches online. Ecosia is essentially a search engine just like Google, that uses its revenue to plant trees around the world. They have committed to planting 1 million trees in Brazil in response to the current crisis that is happening there. All you have to do to support them, is add Ecosia as your browsing extension, or download their app and use it as your search engine! You can track how many trees you have planted, and make a huge difference for this cause, and for climate justice globally.
2. Write to your government
Regardless of where you live, write to your community's representative for federal government. Whether this is a Member of Parliament, a Representative for Congress, or a Member of the National Assembly. Make it known to your government that you care about this issue, and that they should take a stance to protect the Amazon. With enough pressure on the Brazilian government from the international community, the intensive deforestation that is happening in the Amazon will come to an end.
3. Sign the Petition
Similar to other advocacy efforts, signing petitions is a very effective way to let the government of Brazil know that this is an issue that many people care about globally. A petition was created on Change.org by Gabriel Santos, a lawyer who lives in the heart of the Amazon, to advocate against the deforestation happening there, and to put a stop to it. You can sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-burning-of-the-amazon-rainforest
4. Be conscious of how you shop
Currently, deforestation is happening on a massive scale in the Amazon through fires that have been used to clear land. However, there are also many trees in the Amazon that are being cut by companies who use the wood to create products that we use everyday. Be conscious of what you consume, and ensure that the products you are buying do not use wood from the Amazon. Look for products that have the FSC label, which was created by WWF. According to their website,
"FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council®, a certification system co-founded by WWF 26 years ago. What it really means is that the product you buy comes from a forest that is responsibly managed. Trees in these forests are grown and harvested according to a robust set of guidelines that, ultimately, benefit the environment and economy."
You can find out more about the FSC label, and why it is so beneficial for the environment to be buying products with their label, here: https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/want-to-help-save-the-world-s-forests-look-for-the-fsc-label-when-you-shop