By: Emily Balogh, Staff Writer
For weeks, we have seen headlines saying that the Amazon rainforest is burning. Yet, the latest breaking news on Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth’s split has sparked more of a social buzz. Why is it that our society is more focused on celebrity relationships than the protection of our planet?
It is our job as citizens of the planet to stay educated, informed, and inspired to take steps towards action. It is then that we will be able to understand the planet more as we differentiate the environmental facts from the fiction.
One of the first environmental misconceptions we have is that Amazon wildfires are rare. The Amazon experiences wildfires just like every other forest. These annual fires are more of a normal occurrence than the average person realizes. Just in the past decade, we have seen an increase in the severity of wildfires in the Amazon as well as in other rainforests. Social media and celebrities have led the charge to gain more attention to the recent fires; however, how accurate are their facts?
Another environmental misconception we have is that wildfires will reduce our oxygen significantly. While the Amazon does produce a large amount of the earth’s oxygen, these fires will not reduce our oxygen too significantly. For now, take a step back, take a deep breath (pun entirely intended), and realize that natural disasters occur on our beautiful planet every day. It is our job as citizens to fight and protect nature from severe damage. Something we often forget is that nature is more resilient than we realize. The Amazon repeatedly recovers from wildfires every year. If we can trust the scientists on the ground in Brazil to properly enact conservation efforts, then we have largely done all that we can do for the Amazon.
As great as it is that the Amazon crisis has drawn the public’s attention to environmental action, efforts need to be focused elsewhere if we truly want to stop the damage being done to the planet. As average U.S. citizens living far from the Amazon, it can be extremely difficult for us to do more than post an Instagram story about the rainforest. However, this does nothing for the benefit of the Earth or the rainforest in actuality. Each citizen who feels worried about the future of our planet should actively work to reduce their own environmental impact on the Earth. Humans need to focus on reducing their plastic usage. We should reduce the use of materials we use that hurt the environment. In doing so, we can slowly help repair the ozone layer and keep the planet and its inhabitants safe.
The Amazon rainforest’s burning is an issue that needs to be discussed. However, it is distracting from the larger, more practically applicable small efforts that each citizen should strive to adopt to reduce their own carbon “footprint.” The Amazon is a great starting point to get people involved in conservation efforts to notice the damage industrialization and human activity are putting on this planet. However, we cannot stop there. Everyday reduction of environmentally harmful activities can really make an impact if as many people who posted pictures of the rainforest to their stories decided to switch their plastic products to other alternatives.