In Issue 13 of The Current, we provide an update on the Amazon Rainforest fires and discuss some of the ramifications of climate change, as well as details on an international climate strike.
Update: Amazon Rainforest Fires
One month later, the fires in the Amazon rainforest are still burning at alarming rates although international attention towards this cause has waned.
The fires were lit intentionally along the edges of the Amazon by Brazilian farmers who burn through fallen forests that have been cleared to make pastures. This technique is called “slash and burn.” After the fires are extinguished, the pastures will be allowed to grow freely for a few years before being burned again to boost nutrients in the soil.
As the fires led to international outcry, the Brazilian government banned the use of fire to clear land for two months, except in traditional agriculture.
Climate change and arson experts argue that the only effective action is to stop the fires altogether, which would require providing more economic support to farmers who use outdated agricultural techniques like deforestation out of necessity. (ABC AU)
In Bolivia, an estimated 6 million acres of forest and savanna have been torched since August. That is almost equal to the area burned this year in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, a country that is eight times larger than Bolivia. While Bolivia’s left-leaning president is more environmentally conscious than Brazil’s Bolsonaro, some blame his recent policies for exacerbating the fires.
In 2016, Bolivian President Evo Morales signed a law that increased the amount of land individual farmers could burn to make room for crops and livestock by nearly fourfold. In July, he signed a decree allowing “controlled burns” in and around the Chiquitano forest. Authorities report that many of these fires are now out of control.
On Wednesday, some of the world’s largest asset managers and institutional investors wrote an open letter calling on companies to tackle the risks associated with deforestation. They urged companies to implement public, commodity-specific no-deforestation policies and establish transparent systems for monitoring deforestation risk across the entire supply chain, along with annual reporting on the company’s progress, among others. (Fortune)
Current: Climate Strike
Fires in South America, record-breaking heat waves across the world, and melting ice caps are making it impossible to deny the real-life consequences of climate change. It’s not just the environment that we need to protect either. As extreme weather and air pollution increases as a result of global warming, vulnerable populations are hit the hardest. These communities already have higher rates of many adverse health conditions, higher exposure to environmental hazards, and take longer to bounce back from natural disasters. According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment report released in late 2018, climate change will only exacerbate existing inequalities. Here are some facts from NASA about the effects of climate change and global warming.
Much of the damage being done to the environment is at the hands of billion-dollar corporations who are unlikely to change their methods so long as they remain profitable. Fed up with fossil fuel and other industries that continue to ignore the realities of climate change, millions are planning to take part in a worldwide climate strike happening between September 20 and 27.
Following in the example of schoolchildren who have been organizing Friday strikes, some are calling this strike the biggest mass protest in the history of global warming. If you’re interested in participating, consult this Fridays for Future map, which provides information on protests in thousands of locations across the world. You can also visit the Global Climate Strike website for more information.
Check out this in-depth report that provides information on the most effective individual actions we can take to reduce climate change.
Now is the time to lean heavily on grounding practices that reinforce your connection to the earth. Know that even as we face this climate crisis, there is support available to you.
If possible, try to go outside and stand barefooted in the dirt for a few minutes at least once a day. If you cannot be barefooted outside, do this inside while concentrating on connecting to the earth beneath you. Clear your mind and feel yourself being supported. Express gratitude to the earth for supporting you and consider different ways you can be in a healthy exchange with the planet.
This might mean participating in a local clean-up, educating friends or family about accessible ways to reduce their carbon footprint, or limiting your use of plastics. The next time you do a self-care ritual, think of how you can extend it to the earth. For example, if you like taking baths, you might consider recycling your bathwater and using it to water your plants.
Make sure you’re drinking enough water. At least once a day (recommended for right after you wake up) mindfully drink a glass of water, feeling how it nourishes you from the inside-out and expressing gratitude for your ability to access clean water. Consider your relationship to water and whether you can shift your habits to be more environmentally conscious. For example, you might commit to taking shorter showers, collecting rainwater for reuse, or turning off the faucet while washing dishes or doing your nightly routine.
The purpose of these practices is to instill the idea that self-care is intrinsically connected to caring for our planet. The more we weave these concepts together, the easier it will be to commit to sustainable habits.