Why should saving the Amazon rainforest be your priority? The Amazon rainforest covers 5.5 million km² (an area larger than 1/2 of the US and larger than the EU) and belongs to the most diverse ecosystem on Earth. Its importance is unquestionable. However, we are still silently witnessing its demise, refusing to accept accountability. The rainforest is literally and metaphorically on fire.
Scientists have warned us that if the Amazonia reaches its tipping point, it will turn against itself. It will understand that it is not able to save itself and it will speed up the process of desertification. And if it turns into savannah, we will lose almost half of all species. We will lose access to plants contributing to curing 90% of diseases. We will be experiencing severe floods and dry spells across the world. Sounds familiar? Saving the Amazon rainforest should be our priority. Bud do we actually still have time?
To understand what is happening on the full scale, we need to imagine the whole process as circular, not linear. The world only has one climate and what happens at one place directly affects what happens in another place. If we want to fully understand the importance of the rainforest, we need to look at what it used to be able to do.
The domino effect of destruction
Imagine that you are surrounded by green leaves, feeling the vibrations of life everywhere around you. You keep your eyes closed because that is just what you need there. The Amazon rainforest is home to over 2.5 million species of insect, and over 16,000 tree species have their roots there. It is a misty morning and you feel at ease, and only then do you hear the turmoil of tree-cutting machinery. The stress levels start to increase, and the calmness that was surrounding you disappears.
Humans have cut down about one million square kilometers of the Amazon rainforest since 1978. That is the area of Texas. One of the biggest reasons why is Amazon being destroyed is industrial agriculture. It is rather ironic that we cut trees, which absorb carbon dioxide, to produce even more carbon dioxide by raising cattle. In the past, Amazon used to level and stabilize the world climate by storing carbon dioxide. The leaves absorbed it and turned it into oxygen – which they released; and carbon – which they consumed.
However, if we burn those trees, the carbon they store will turn into CO2 and will be released back to the atmosphere. By cutting the rainforest, we are against ourselves.
The desertification happening at our watch
David Attenborough said in his new documentary that once the Amazon rainforest hits its tipping point, it will be almost impossible to reverse it. What does it mean though? If Amazon reaches its tipping point, it will transform into the savannah. The rainforest used to be able to control its own hydrological cycle. The trees regulated the rainfall, evaporation, and transpiration. However, with one-fifth of the Amazon gone, the most diverse ecosystem on Earth is losing its ability to sustain itself. It does not make sense. We know what is happening, we understand it is not good, yet we continue being indifferent. Maybe we think that when the Amazon is gone, life will find its way anyway. And it is highly probable that it will, but will the human race be part of it?
We bet on Earth providing us with air, water, food, and shelter, while we destroy it with precision only known to humans. The meat industry is very aggressive and we might feel like we don’t have the power to change what is happening. That is not true though. If there is less demand, the supply will need to follow suit.
What do numbers say?
Cattle produce more greenhouse gas emissions than the whole transport sector combined. Each day, about 800,000 cows are killed for food. To feed cattle, we use 77% of the soya we grow, we need an area 7 times larger than Europe to grow food for cattle. To produce one kilogram of beef, we need 51.6 times more water than we need to produce 1 kilogram of vegetables. No wonder that corporates set fire to Amazon to clear room for fields, right?
If 365 people gave up meat for a single day of a year, they would save 738675.98 liters of water. That is a yearly water resource for approximately 445 people. The system we are supporting seems illogical. We are cutting rainforests, which is in itself very damaging, only to make the situation even worse. We are cutting the safety net holding us up, while simultaneously lifting it higher. That will only make the fall harder. I cannot even explain the confusion I feel. Yet, I am not trying to persuade you to stop eating meat, I am trying to explain to you that if you don’t reduce your meat consumption, there will be no future.
I struggle with guilt at times. Am I doing enough?
Saving the Amazon rainforest
1. Reduce your meat intake
You do not need to stop consuming meat, simply alternate your diet and find a way that works best for you.
2. Don’t buy new furniture if you don’t have to
It is extremely easy to order a new bed or bedside table, but is it always necessary? That is the question you need to ask yourself when refurbishing your apartment.
3. Plant new trees
You can either plant trees in your garden – if permissible, or you can support small organizations that plant trees in areas that were destroyed. Always research ahead though as you want your money to support what you believe in.
4. Talk to people about the action you took
Share your knowledge with your friends and family. Rather than lecturing them, try to inspire them. Nobody likes to be told what to do, but everybody loves a good role model.
In my opinion, this is the most important point. We need to make sure that the corporations that are destroying our home finally hear us. We need to stop supporting them and opt for ecologically sustainable options. Even if they are more expensive. I can guarantee you that those products will last you longer.
Sometimes I feel very sad and lacking hope, other days I am optimistic. It is not going to be easy but we have the power and we can all partake in the eco-revolution, which is starting to form around the world.
To read more tips, visit https://www.yogacirce.com/2021/07/14/how-to-be-more-eco-conscious