What Do Wildfires In The Amazon Rainforest Mean For Climate Change?

Ask someone on the right, and you’ll hear about how the allegations of man-made forest fires have been largely debunked — it was lightning that started those fires and those pictures are a decade old! Ask someone on the left, and you’ll hear about how thousands of fires have been started this year — and more importantly that the number of fires is increasing year by year because of loosened regulations in South America. 

Per usual, the most accurate climate-related information is coming directly from those who lean left. 

Brazil is the biggest exporter of beef in the world, but the country needs space to raise livestock. It’s the biggest reason why forest fires are sometimes set on purpose: to clear land. Cattle are one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases, because cows burp and fart methane — a gas that can be temporarily more dangerous than carbon dioxide when introduced into our atmosphere.

In addition, grazing results in desertification of the land (i.e. everything ends up dead, and nothing can grow there again). Once upon a time, herds of tens of thousands would graze, fertilize, and then move on because of predation. Remember buffalo? No, we don’t either.

But man-made construction projects (like highways, or better yet, walls) and over-hunting prevent animals from maintaining needed populations. Without fertilizer from these animals, the smaller organisms have nothing on which they can feed — so they die. Without the smaller organisms, the larger animals die as well. We are amidst a sixth great extinction — right now! — because the environment can’t keep up with what we’re doing to it.

And then there are the direct ramifications of clearing our rainforests. The Amazon contributes about 20 percent of the world’s oxygen, and without it, it’s not difficult to imagine obvious doomsday scenarios eventually coming true. The trees also breathe in and lock away carbon dioxide, which means our best natural means of capturing carbon from the atmosphere is being systematically wiped out.

Much of the reason this pattern is getting worse is because Brazilian President Bolsonaro has reduced protections for the rainforest in order to kickstart his economy, regardless of the global implications. 

Although Brazil is the largest beef exporter in the world, the beef hasn’t been coming here since 2017, when imports were suspended amid safety concerns. Naturally, Trump and Bolsonaro have been in talks to reintroduce Brazilian beef into U.S. markets.

The White House said: “In order to allow for the resumption of Brazil’s beef exports, the United States agreed to expeditiously schedule a technical visit by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to audit Brazil’s raw beef inspection system, as soon as it satisfied with Brazil’s food safety documentation.”

Reintroducing Brazilian beef into the United States could result in even more deforestation projects in the near future, dooming thousands of species who depend on the rainforest for their very survival, and destroying much of the potential research into medicine that could be done there.