Amazon fires rage on


The Amazon Rainforest continues to burn.

 Record-breaking fires are tearing through the Amazon, but false information about the rainforest is also spreading quickly.


The Amazon rainforest benefits every breathing animal on the planet, helping them eat and breathe all while providing them a home. While this is true, the statistic circling social media—that it provides 20% of all oxygen on the planet—is not. 


Actor Leonardo Dicaprio and professional soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo are two of many celebrities that have spread false information about the Amazon fires. “The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen,” shared Ronaldo in a tweet about the fires. 


The truth is much more complicated than that. The Amazon does not actually produce a large amount of oxygen, instead the ocean is responsible for the majority of production. The rainforest does emit oxygen, but it also absorbs a large amount, so it does not contribute as much as some may believe.


That being said, the Amazon does play a huge role in slowing the forces of global warming. Its trees absorb carbon dioxide, which makes rainforest health vital in pulling planet-warming greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. 


These fires pose an even greater threat under the surface. As trees die, they release detrimental amounts of carbon, only worsening the climate crisis. The immediate effects, though, fall on those nearest the flames. Thick, black smoke floods the neighboring state Porto Velho, the capital of Rondonia in the Brazilian Amazon, making breathing a challenge. 


One in ten of all animal species on Earth call the Amazon home, and experts expect that they will be dramatically affected by the fires. Because the fires are not naturally caused like those in California earlier this year, the environment is not prepared for their impact.


Since his election in 2018, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has been pushing for the development of the Amazon for business purposes. With Brazil owning the majority of the Amazon, the fires have brought attention to Bolosonaro’s environmental policies. The president’s opinion on developing the Amazon may be causing farmers to set fires as a way of deforesting their land for economic gain. 


While this cannot be directly correlated with the fires in the Amazon today, it is true that fires were up 84% this year from 2018, according to CNN.


Regardless of causation, the Amazon fires pose a huge threat to the environment and animal species of Brazil. Until policy or attitudes change, this could keep happening in the future.