Don't be angry you didn't know; be angry that the Amazon is on fire.

by - August 22, 2019

The Amazon has been on fire for the last 3 weeks and it is suddenly breaking news. I have seen countless posts about this on social media and in the news. There has been a lot of finger-pointing as well as to who's fault it is that it took 3 weeks for this news to reach a global audience. 

I have seen people posting things like "because no one cares enough, I'm only hearing about this now" or "I'm sharing this because the news won't". Firstly, the news is. Secondly, this sort of stuff never makes headline news immediately, so I don't know why everyone is shocked. And thirdly, this is not the fault of individuals or news organisations not caring.

This is just a fundamental issue in today's society whereby the environment is not considered as important as other sectors and therefore not given as much press attention. It has nothing to do with the Amazon itself and it has nothing to do with the BBC or CNN or whoever you watch, not caring about the Amazon forest, indigenous people, or wildlife. And it certainly has nothing to do with members of the public not caring enough.

It is great that people are talking about these fires and the wider implications. But it is just talk. You can shout about it on social media all you want, and you can be angry that it took 3 weeks to reach you. That's a completely valid reaction, and definitely understandable. 

But this is a classic example of something that is today's news and forgotten tomorrow. Everyone is a conservationist when something bad happens. This isn't a criticism: I think it's wonderful how much people care, especially our generation. You do not have to dedicate your life/career to a cause to care about it.

But, your frustration is misdirected. The problem is not that no one knew about these fires from the offset: it's that these fires are happening in the first place at a record breaking rate and extent. 

There are loads of reasons the Amazon burns: deforestation, deliberate fires, wildlife, etc. When it comes to environmental problems, it's never straight forward. These issues are multifaceted and complex; and they're not going away. Not without top-down approaches (which is very relevant given the Brazilian presidents' relaxed attitude towards environmental policy), or normal people making sacrifices and compromises to their everyday life. 

We will have to drive less, fly less, and eat less meat. We might have to restrict our hours of electricity. We might have to restrict our water consumption. We might not be able to eat imported foods. These things aren't extreme: their likely realities if we want to prevent that 1.5 degree rise. 

Next time you share something to do with climate change/the environment, think: would I give up steak or avocado for this? Would I give up my car? Would I turn off my electric power?

Don't be angry you didn't know; be angry that the Amazon is on fire.

Because now the whole world knows, and our lungs are still on fire. 

Belizean rainforest

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