The Amazon: a World on Fire

This graph shows how many million hectares countries have lost all across the world. Even among a worldwide statistic, Brazil is leading by a heavy margin.

This graph shows how many million hectares countries have lost all across the world. Even among a worldwide statistic, Brazil is leading by a heavy margin.

Owen Goodchild, Staff Writer

I sat on my couch, staring at the TV in shock. In front of me, I saw the Amazon rainforest, or at least that’s what I was told. The screen flashed and suddenly my whole view was a bright roaring red. 10 million years of evolution turned to toppled cinders right before my eyes. It shook me, but it shook me more to learn that this was not a unique case. 

Every day 10,000 acres or 7,500 football fields of rainforest are taken down to make room for businesses and illegal logging. Of the businesses that go to fill the new space, cattle ranching alone made up 80% of the deforestation happening in 2008. It didn’t start there though; ever since 1978, 185 million acres of land have been lost from the Amazon, and that number is growing faster and faster every year. 

According to the Brazilian Earth system scientist Carlos Nobre, if deforestation reaches 20-25%, the rainforest won’t be able to support itself in most of the Amazon Basin, and in a brisk 50 years, we’re already hitting 17%.

Because of its colossal size and the vast number of trees, the Amazon is responsible for a fourth of the carbon dioxide absorbed on land. Under these trees, one of the most biodiverse settings in the world thrives. Over 3 million separate species call this rainforest home, with over 100 new species being discovered every year. The Amazon is also home to 1.5 million indigenous people who have lived here for tens of thousands of years.

By all accounts, the Amazon is certainly near the top of the “ecological wonders humanity doesn’t want to destroy” list. However, incessant slash-and-burn expansion makes those numbers harder and harder to sustain. Losing such an integral part of the planet’s network would be cataclysmic. Corporations would shudder to think of losing medicines that cure ninety percent of known diseases, the 40 million people who depend on the Amazon for food and shelter would be devastated to watch their livelihoods be poured down the drain, and all soon-to-be 8 billion of us don’t want to watch our whole climate go up in flames with it.

Works Cited:

The Amazon Rainforest Is Losing about 10,000 Acres a Day. Soon It Will Be Too Late | Kim Heacox.” TheGuardian, Guardian News and Media, 7 Oct. 2021.

Amazon.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund.

Ashley ThomsonAshley is a Campaigner on the Climate team at Greenpeace USA where she works on Federal climate policy. For the past several years she’s worked on global climate policy for commodity supply chains, et al. “Biodiversity and the Amazon Rainforest.” Greenpeace USA, 3 June 2022.

Fahad. “What Happens If the Amazon Rainforest Disappears?” Earth Reminder, 8 Dec. 2021.

Moore, Derick. “U.S. Population Estimated at 334,233,854 on Jan. 1, 2023.”, 29 Dec. 2022.

Peoples of the Amazon.” Amazon Aid Foundation, 27 Oct. 2021.

Unsustainable Cattle Ranching.” WWF.

Why Is the Amazon Rain Forest Disappearing?” Time, Time.