As the fires in the Amazon continue to inspire calls for greater worldwide emphasis on climate change and public pleas for international collaboration on methods of intervention, the information on these fires—from viral photos to a (since rejected) G7 agreement worth $20 million—is stacking up at a rate some may find hard to digest.

To that end, we've broken down some key must-knows associated with the heartbreaking blazes below.

What's happening?

The fires affecting Brazil's Amazon rainforest were reported earlier this month to be burning at the highest rate seen since the National Institute for Space Research (referred to as INPE) started tracking them in 2013. In 2019 alone, Brazil has seen 72,843 fires, over half of which—per CNN—are in the Amazon region. These figures mark an increase of more than 80 percent when compared against stats from the same timeframe in 2018.

But blaming the fires entirely on the dry season, INPE researcher Alberto Setzer said last week, isn't fair. 

"The dry season creates the favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident," Setzer said, pointing to cattle ranchers and farmers' land-clearing methods.

In a press release also released last week, environmental group Greenpeace spoke definitively on the connection between climate change-worsening practices and fires of this magnitude.

"Forest fires and climate change operate in a vicious cycle: as the number of fires increase, so do greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the planet's overall temperature and the occurrence of extreme weather events, such as major droughts," a Greenpeace rep said.

What is the impact?

In addition to the emissions problems pointed out by Greenpeace, deforestation in general is considered by environmental protection groups as a direct contributor to potential rainfall pattern changes. Such changes can affect everything from biodiversity in the region to overall human health.

Smoke from these particular fires has been shown via Copernicus satellite imagery to have spread into nearby areas in Paraguay, Peru, and Bolivia. 

Looking at the larger environmental picture, it's been posited that continued deforestation increases could contribute to the Amazon region becoming a CO2 source by way of less oxygen being emitted. As Amazon Watch Finance Campaign Director Moira Birss explained, "indigenous people of the Amazon have been sounding the alarm" for years.

What are international governments and other leaders doing about it?

We all heard about Leonard DiCaprio's Earth Alliance putting forth $5 million toward Amazon rain forest preservation efforts, but what else is being done?

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has been condemned by many environmental groups and other world leaders for a rhetoric many say only serves to systematically dismantle the country's policy on such issues.

Speaking with reporters Monday, the same day the G7 agreed to the aforementioned $20 million pledge, Bolsonaro offered this, per AP:

"Look, does anyone help anyone—not including poor people, you know—without something in return? What have they wanted there for so long?"

Threats of trade deal blocks have ensued from other international leaders.

French President Emmanuel Macron, specifically, has been the subject of insulting remarks from Bolsonaro that at one point included wife Brigitte.

Speaking during a press conference Monday, Macron condemned the remarks as "sad" and hoped Brazil would one day see renewed leadership.

"I have great respect for the Brazilian people and can only hope they soon have a president who is up to the job," Macron said.

As for that $20 million from the G7, it was later reported that Brazil would be turning it down. However, there appears to be some confusion regarding this rejection, as CNN reported Tuesday that Bolsonaro had suggested he would respond to the offer only if Macron's comments were withdrawn.

What's next?

As Germany and others have backed Macron's message of urgency on this matter, the question turns to how everyday people—regardless of location—can get involved in united betterment practices.

For forest-specific concerns, you can keep an eye on rainforest-protecting goods by becoming familiar with the Rainforest Alliance-approved products ranging from bananas to teas. You can also donate to the Alliance.


🙏🏽🙏🏿🙏🙏🏻🙏🏽 A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has donated, shared, amplified, and reached out to express anguish about the Amazon fires, concern for the communities who call it home, and love for our wondrous planet. 😭🌎 In less than 2 days, we have raised $310,670 here on IG for 5 Brazilian organizations on the front lines of the fight to protect the Amazon and the human rights of the Indigenous people who live there 🙌🏽 (see previous post). The response has been both overwhelming (pardon us for taking longer than usual to respond to requests and queries) and deeply encouraging. ✨ It feels like so many people are awakening to our interdependence with nature; to the integrity and beauty of Indigenous land stewardship; and to how harrowing our climate future will be if we lose even another 20% of this majestic rainforest. 🌳 Some of you have asked: are the fires still burning? The answer, unfortunately, is YES—the Amazon is in fact burning much of the time. What we are seeing in Brazil is really a spike in a terrible ongoing crisis that we have been fighting for years. The Amazon is huge beyond our imagining: it takes 5 hours fly over it in an airline jet. So it makes sense that protecting it will require massive global collaboration and sustained investment over time. If there is one thing we can ask of all of you who have joined us recently, it is this: stay with us on this journey of wildly unreasonable hope. WE are our most powerful weapon in this war between nihilism and possibility, and we can accomplish miracles together if we truly commit to transforming both our world and ourselves.💚 (continued in comment)

A post shared by Rainforest Alliance (@rainforestalliance) on Aug 23, 2019 at 4:37pm PDT

The Rainforest Trust, the Rainforest Action Network, the World Wildlife Fund, the Amazon Conservation Team, and the aforementioned Amazon Watch group are other organizations who offer donation options designed to benefit the affected regions.

You can also ink a petition, including this one from Greenpeace, as well as make an effort to let your local political leaders know where you stand on matters of Amazon protection and climate change at large.

Speaking of climate change, consider reducing your involvement with the meat industry and—when possible—walk instead of drive and/or carpool with friends or co-workers.