"The Amazon fires are an issue for the whole planet” This sentence was said by French President Emmanuel Macron. On August 17, the news about the Amazon fires came into hearing and the forest fires have been raging for five weeks in the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest called the "lungs of the earth". The Amazon's fires have already caused 9,500km² of damage, which is more than 15 times the size of Seoul and between 15 percent and 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest. Recognizing the seriousness of the Amazon fires, Macron made an official announcement that he would put the fires on the agenda during the G7 summit because the outbreak of the problem occurred during the G7 summit.
Why is the Amazon so important to the earth that the Amazon fires is on the agenda for the G7 summit? Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world with its long rivers and forests located in South America. The rainforest absorbs carbon dioxide that is the main culprit of greenhouse gases and supplies more than 20 percent of the Earth's oxygen. Also, the Amazon is considered a symbol of Mother Nature as the only habitat for about 300 species of rare living things. Because of these values, the Amazon is called the “Earth's lungs” and has an environmental impact on humans.
However, in recent years, there has been an increase in the rates of forest fires in the Amazon, which holds these important values for the Earth. According to the National Institute for Space Research in Brazil, the rate of fires has increased 83 percent this year compared to 2018. The institute said the fires are extremely rare because of Amazon's moisture, adding that fires only briefly increase in July or August when the dry season begins. They also explained that fires are occurring in the Amazon regardless of the dry and rainy seasons this year. In other words, the fires are occurring due to extremely artificial factors by human activities. The Washington Post also points out that three causes of frequent Amazon fires are the deforestation, farming and drought caused by human activities.
Jair Messias Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, has actively supported the policies to reduce environmental-related departments and ease Amazon development regulations or encourage stock farming in the Amazon, with this pretext at the forefront. The Brazilian government maintains that development of the Amazon is inevitable because Brazil's main economic activity consists of agriculture and mining. He also argued that since the Amazon belongs to Brazilian territory, the suppression of the international community involved in what happens within the Amazon is a flagrant violation of Brazil's sovereignty.
However, most foreign media and environmental protection groups pointed out that the Amazon development policy of Brazil's government has caused the big fires in Amazon. Many countries and environmental groups have provided the support funds that would allow Brazil to develop their economy instead of developing the Amazon for its protection. However, after Brazil strongly rejected Amazon's development regulations following the Amazon fires, Germany and Norway that were major donors insisted they would cut some of the support fund or stop providing them. At first, they donated the support money to stop Brazil from destroying the Amazon for Brazil’s economic development, but let Brazil continue to develop the Amazon while receiving donations. Therefore, Germany and Norway have decided to stop donating the support fund to Brazil that failed to keep their promise. Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, said, "Of course Amazon belongs to Brazil, but the Amazon rainforest is affected globally, so we must seek a common solution."
Even though this Amazon fire incident has a huge impact on the Earth and all mankind, news of the fire is not being publicized around the world. While the Notre-Dame fire in April this year attracted the attention of many media and people around the world, the media and people still lack interest in the Amazon fires. Especially in Korea, the media apathy about Amazon's fire is serious. Such media apathy has caused Brazilians to complain of anxiety and they are spreading news of Amazon’s fires through their SNS. Also, leaders from other countries seem to want to publicly assert themselves to gain political advantage, in the face of Amazon's fires caused by human reckless development. However, they must recognize that the Amazon continues to burn while their arguments continue.
In addition, a spokesperson for the World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Kerry Cesareo, said, "If we cannot protect Amazon, we have lost the fight of the climate crisis." Likewise, at a time when climate problems are emerging as a global problem, the big fires of the Amazon carry considerable significance to all of humanity. Students at Catholic University of Korea, as members of the global community, should also take an interest in environmental issues and actively seek to protect the environment. In addition, the whole world should pay attention and raise their voices to support the people who have lost their homes and animals that have lost their habitats. Amazon is now in flames with human greed.