The Amazon rainforest is so big that, if it was considered to be a country of its own, it would be the 6th biggest country in the world. In fact, even though the biggest part of it is within Brazilian borders, the Amazon actually spans across 8 other South American countries. It is also one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, harboring more than 3 million species with more being discovered every year. This uniquely rich environment is the home to many indigenous people of different tribes and cultures. So far it would seem that, in the context of global warming and climate change, the Amazon rainforest wouldn’t only be referred to as an incredibly important part of the planet, but actually be treated as one. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

It would be a stretch to say that the Amazon was properly preserved in the past: deforestation has been a serious problem since the 1970s, during the military dictatorship which ended in 1985. It is now reaching a point of no return, having lost 20% of its coverage of millions of miles in just a few decades.This represents a massive amount of carbon dioxide that will not be absorbed from the atmosphere. However, even though this situation should be treated as an issue to be tackled, things keep getting worse. Under the government of Brazil’s current president, Jair Bolsonaro, the Amazon rainforest’s deforestation hit a 12-year high due to policies aimed at weakening environmental law enforcement agencies and Bolsonaro’s denial of climate change alerts.

Even though the record breaking deforestation caught the world’s attention, the Amazon continues to burn, and one of the reasons for that is cattle ranching. Considering that, for many vegans and vegetarians, two core values are animal rights and environmental protection, the importance of preserving the Amazon rainforest’s deforestation can’t go unnoticed.

The price to pay is too high: atmosphere pollution, the extinction of countless species of animals and trees, the expulsion of indigenous people of their land, soil degradation and the list goes on. All of that to mostly dedicate the devastated land to cattle farming, which is a bold bright red flag. It isn’t possible to sustain human consumption of animal products for too long on this scale and at this cost without provoking irreversible environmental damage that could cause our own extinction as humans. Quickly, what used to be considered values are turning into a matter of survival itself.

What now?

Things might not be looking so optimistic at the moment, but maybe it isn’t too late to make a change. It’s not exactly possible to individually prevent deforestation or single handedly fix everything, but it is possible to act in other ways. Speaking to people about it, going after and spreading information to draw as much attention to this matter as possible are great to start, but it can go further. Only when people stop consuming animal products will deforestation stop being so profitable. And that is the most guaranteed way to make it stop.

 September 5th was this year’s Amazon Day in Brazil, and it is a good opportunity for the whole world to once again turn its attention to it as well. There so much to be fixed, but there is also so much to be celebrated as well. It isn’t just about being amazed at how impressive the rainforest is for its size, beauty and biodiversity, but also about understanding how much the Amazon could keep contributing to society if seriously protected.

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