The Planet's "Lungs" are on Fire!

It’s like yelling Fire! in a crowded theater. In truth, The Planet’s Lungs Are On Fire!

Most people are horrified by the visuals this month from the Amazon rainforest, showing intense fire activity during the 2019 dry season. Fire activity during the first eight months of 2019 is already one-third greater than last year, with more than 40,000 fires burning more than 1,300 square miles of forest.

What will happen when the Amazon rainforest is no longer sequestering carbon dioxide in such large amounts?

We are on a path to destroying our planetary life support systems; the approach of getting national governments to take effective action seems like the only path, yet one that’s doomed to failure. Is it time to rethink governance from an environmental rather than political standpoint? It’s one planet, folks, and we have to act as planetary stewards.

Amazon fires seen from space, August 2019

Amazon fires seen from space, August 2019

While Brazil has taken all the criticism for its lax forest management practices, the Amazon fires spread across national boundaries of Peru, Bolivia, even Paraguay and Argentina. A growing population and a growing demand for beef mean that deforestation will continue to be an economically valuable activity in those areas.

We can protest all we like, but we have almost no power to do anything, except for European and North American consumers to boycott beef from Brazil. Does anyone seriously think that will make any difference? Meat consumption is rising worldwide; what we don’t eat from Brazil will just find markets elsewhere.

Amazon fires respect no national boundaries!

Amazon fires respect no national boundaries!

The fight to prevent catastrophic global climate change has clearly hit a speed bump in the Amazon rainforest, a steady worsening of our planetary habitat and its ability to heal itself. Clearly, these issues are all intertwined.

Getting off of fossil fuels will likely take 30 to 50 years, but if we are diminishing at the same time our ability to sequester atmospheric carbon with fast-growing tropical forests, then even eliminating ALL fossil-fuel combustion (something that I guarantee you will not happen in this century!) won’t be enough to prevent major global warming over the next 50 years.

I don’t eat meat and haven’t since I was 30, for both health and environmental reasons. We can all take some actions. What’s your solution for both personal responsibility and political action?