The Amazon Forest, also known as the lung of the world, is burning.
You probably would have seen the pictures of it circulating on social media by now, but what exactly are the implications of a forest burning on the other side of the world to us, Malaysians?
Not that we should need direct implications to care about what's happening around the world, but it helps to know the extent of the damage.
The lung of the world
The Amazon forest is known as the lung of the world, and the title is not just some fancy name given to promote the rainforest.
It literally is responsible in providing the world, including us, with 20 per cent of the oxygen we inhale on a daily basis to stay alive.
Less green in the Amazon means less oxygen for us, and considering that the jungles in the rest of the world aren't doing all that well either, our oxygen level is just going to go lower and cause lots of complications.
Keeping climate change in check
The forest is also the largest carbon store that helps slow down global warming, according to Livescience.
It absorbs a crazy amount of carbon dioxide from the environment, which keeps the greenhouse gas levels lower.
If you think the weather is hot nowadays, wait till all our forests are gone, not so slowly, but surely.
In the Amazon itself, forest area the size of one and a half football field is getting burned EVERY MINUTE.
If that's not crazy, we don't know what is.
Source of water and freshwater species
We all know clean, fresh water is essential to human life. The Amazon Basin is home to about 6,600 kilometers of river, according to WWF.
This account for about 15 per cent of water discharged into the ocean and is home to hundreds of species of fish and other organisms.
Rainforest also produce, store and filter water, according to National Geographic.
When it gets destroyed, soil erosion, flood and drought happens, destroying nature and displacing people.
Wait...why are we talking about it now?
If you haven't been paying attention to the news and social media the past few days. you might have missed the story of the burning Amazonian forest.
Worry not... we'll fill you in.
According to reports, there has been record numbers of burnings at the Amazon rainforest.
So many that the smoke from all the burnings can be seen from space - as captured by both NASA satellites.
To give you a clearer picture, the satellites have captured over 73,000 burning spots since January this year.
It even caused a daytime blackout some 1,700 kilometers away in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
That's right, the smoke was so thick, it caused a "blackout" in a city thousands of miles away.
The thing is, the issue of the destruction of Amazon rainforest is not new. It has been happening over the years, but has become much worse in recent times.
There are several factors to this - which technically all boils down to human greed, but here's an excellent video on some of the causes by Hasan Minhaj on Patriot Act:
If you don't have the time to watch, this line pretty much sums up the episode: 'Between political corruption, Bolsonaro’s (Brazillian president) pro-business agenda, and the incentives of agribusiness, the Amazon is going to keep burning.' - Hasan Minhaj.
According to Express, while wildfire does happen, the high number of burnings is caused by humans to deforest land to build cattle ranches.
Brazil is the largest exporter of beef in the world, and a lot of land is needed to rear enough cattles to supply the meat.
It is estimated that 80 per cent of the forest fire is caused by ranchers clearing the forest to meet the demand.
In other words, these fires are mostly caused by human beings. Deliberately. To make more money.
But at the end of the day, we are all going to pay for the greed of some.
So, here's what we can do
- Donate to organisations such as Protect An Acre, Rainforest Trust and Amazon Watch.
- Reduce consumption of meat. Now, we're not saying that the meat we consume here comes from animals reared on cleared Amazon jungles, but jungles somewhere were cleared to rear the animals we're consuming and it's just as bad.
- Reduce paper and products made from wood. As an avid reader, it pains this writer to say it, but maybe start lending books from libraries instead of buying and share the ones you buy among friends the next time?
Protect our planet
Logically speaking, the earth has been around long before human beings ever existed and likely will continue to survive long after we are gone.
But we only have one planet that can sustain human life, and we're destroying it. It is time for us to collectively take action to restore balance on earth.
It is high time we started to rethink the way we consume, where things that we consume (not just food but everything else) comes from and at what cost to the earth.
Let the burning of Amazon rainforest be a lesson to us all and a catalyst to do something - big or small - to be more sustainable.