Why has the largest rainforest on Earth—the Amazon—experienced record-breaking fires for more than three weeks? As the hashtag #PrayForAmazonia continues to trend on Twitter, we should address the leading culprit in global deforestation: animal agriculture.
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In less than a week, Brazil’s space research center INPE recorded more than 9,500 new fires, with the majority clustered inside the Amazonian basin. This region contains the largest rainforest in the world, and experts know how important its forestland is to combating global climate change.
Raging wildfires have spread fast in Mato Grosso and Pará, two Brazilian regions dominated by animal agriculture, which has caused deforestation at alarming rates.
Some cattle ranchers even deliberately start illegal wildfires in order to make room for more animals.
Such practices could very well have caused the current situation, especially since Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (known in Brazil as “Captain Chainsaw”) champions deforestation efforts and promised to cut rainforest protections. In July alone, the rate of Amazon rainforest destruction was nearly 300% higher than the same month in 2018. Many feel Bolsonaro has inspired farmers to take over land in the Amazon by any means necessary.
Experts believe that in some fashion, humans started the roaring blazes in Brazil. Ane Alencar, program director at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, told UOL that no natural weather event could be responsible and that increased deforestation efforts were the only reasonable explanation. “In 2019, we have no weather events that affect droughts, such as El Niño, or they are not happening [so] strong. There’s no way the weather can explain this increase [of burns],” she said.
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INPE researcher Alberto Setzer echoed this sentiment, telling Reuters, “The dry season creates the favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.”
Three football fields of land in the Brazilian Amazon are deforested every minute.
The World Bank reported that cattle ranching has fueled up to 91% of deforestation since 1970. In addition, one of the main crops grown in the rainforest is soybeans used for animal feed.
Deforestation is a problem in Australia too, and the culprits are the same. In Queensland alone in 2015-16, about 395,000 hectares of native vegetation were cleared, mostly for livestock pasture.
We Can All Help Save the World’s Rainforests by Going Vegan Right Now
Animal agriculture requires massive amounts of land, feed, energy, and water and causes living, feeling beings to endure immense suffering. Order a free vegan starter kit to learn how easy it is to help prevent environmental degradation and save nearly 200 animals a year from a cruel, senseless death.