Rainforest’s ablaze; but who gives a damn? - EDITORIAL

26 August 2019 12:16 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Since January this year, a devastating fire has been burning in the Amazon -the world’s largest rain forest. This rain forest plays a crucial role in keeping our planet’s carbon-dioxide levels in check. Its plants and trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air in their process of photosynthesis.   


This is why the Amazon, which covers 2.1 million square miles, is often referred to as the “lungs of the planet”: The forest produces 20% of the oxygen in our planet’s atmosphere.   
But, it was only two days ago (August 22), the media somewhat belatedly broke news that the ‘lungs of the world were ablaze’. In fact he Amazon rain forest has experienced a record-setting number of fires this year —with nearly 73,000 fires in 2019 so far, an 83% increase from the same time last year and it has been estimated that more than 9,000 of those fires have been spotted in the past week. Since August 15, more than 9,500 new forest fires have started across Brazil, primarily in the 
Amazon basin.   


This year so far, scientists have recorded more than 74,000 fires in Brazil. That’s nearly double 2018’s total of about 40,000 fires. Between 1990 and 2016, the world had lost 502,000 square miles (1.3 million square km) of forest, according to the World Bank—an area larger than South Africa.   


In April 2019, when the roof of the Cathedral of Notre Dame was on fire, the news flashed around the world instantaneously. Within days, firefighters were able to douse the fire. Within days billionaires and ordinary folk from around the globe were pledging funds to rebuild the centuries-old artefact. By July 8; nearly three months after a fire devastated Paris’s famed Cathedral, France’s National Assembly moved closer to enacting legislation to approve a time-line based restoration process for one of the world’s iconic landmarks. The country’s primary legislative body recently approved a resolution that established a national plan for accepting donations toward the rebuilding efforts and adheres to French President Emmanuel Macron’s intent to have the work done before Paris plays host to the Olympics in 2024.   


Dr. Emily Guerry, Senior Lecturer in Mediaeval European History at Britain’s University of Kent estimated it at around 3,000 trees would be needed to replace the beams destroyed by the fire! Yes, it will be done by 2024. As the ‘Guardian’ points out The Amazon is the centre of the world. Right now, as our planet experiences climate collapse, there is now here more important.   


For 500 years, this has been a place of ruins. First with the European invasion, which brought a particularly destructive form of civilisation, the death of hundreds of thousands of indigenous men and women and the extinction of dozens of people. More recently, it was the clearance of vast swathes of the forest and all life within it. Right now, in 2019, we are witnessing the beginning of a new, disastrous chapter.   


There is a plan in place with dates and times for the restoration of the Notre Dame, but the countries of the world have not as yet been able to put in place a plan to save our planet. Oops, a small mistake, the world did in fact have a plan, but along came America’s elected President Trump, and unilaterally tore up the plan which would have enabled the world to make a turnaround sometime in the not too distant future.   


France’s President Macron described the Amazon fire “an international crisis” and called on the globe’s most industrialized nations to address it at their summit this weekend. But as it often happens, it takes just one foolish man and his blind followers to throw the best laid plans of mice and men into disarray.   
So today the citizens of our world must ponder how they avoid becoming extinct. To make matters worse, Brazil home to a major section of the Amazon rain forest has now a president who like his American counterpart does not believe in climate change or in the value of rain forests. Like his American counterpart, he too single-mindedly believes in profit.   
Time is running out, according to the World Resources Institute half the world’s rain forests have been destroyed in a century, at this rate we could see them vanish altogether in our lifetime! Every year about 18 million hectares of forest cover – an area of the size of England and Wales is destroyed.   


As the world seeks to slow the pace of climate change, preserve wildlife, and support billions of people, trees inevitably hold a major part of the answer. Yet the mass destruction of trees —deforestation— continues, sacrificing the long-term benefits of standing trees for short-term gain.     

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