• Annabel Emery

THE AMAZON: What Can We Do to Help?


The Amazon blazing from space. Image from Oregonlive

"If we lose the Amazon, we lose the fight against climate change and we are the last generation that can stop it."

-Greenpeace


Image: northcountrypublicradio.org

It is with sickening devastation that I'm scrawling out this post as quickly as possible in order to get some very important information out there that will hopefully make a difference, no matter how small. You've probably seen the dozens of re-posts, articles and the hashtag #PrayForAmazonia filling up your news feed; and rightfully so. This is probably one of the most important economical events to happen in our lifetime and unfortunately, the mainstream media has not pulled its socks up with exposing it. So I guess it's up to the little people to fight for our oxygen, as the 'lungs of our planet' burn across South America.


I am overwhelmed by the amount of people that are sharing articles, opening discussions, re-posting media coverage and indeed, sending their thoughts and prayers for not only the rainforest, but the indigenous people and wildlife that call the Amazon their home. But in a modern world where drastic change requires drastic action, I must call upon you all to play your part in doing a little more than just crossing your fingers. NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT.


WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?


Wednesday 21st August, at 3pm, black clouds consumed the skies of Brazil's largest city; São Paulo. Shrouds of smoke blocked out the natural sunlight and cast an apocalyptic darkness across the densely populated city. The plumes of blackened smoke had traveled from the scalding fires of the Amazon rainforest and were so enormous, they could be seen from space.


Since Brazil's current far-right President, Jair Bolonsaro, was elected in January 2019, the Brazilian Amazon has seen deforestation at a rapid 67% increase. According to Rainforest Action Network; "most of the fires have been intentionally set by farmers to clear land for illegal cattle ranching, soy, and other uses. And these fires are causing twice the climate crisis, because the carbon stored by the rainforest is being released into the atmosphere, and the Amazon has played a critical role in absorbing the carbon currently in the atmosphere. With less protection, a government that is encouraging destruction and threatening the rights of Indigenous Peoples, we are now left with the crisis that is at hand".


Bolsonaro has allowed one of the worlds largest investment firms, BlackRock, to move in and use new areas of the rainforest for industry and agriculture. This movement is inspiring violence towards the indigenous communities, as the company continues to use its status and financial power to destroy their home for their profit.


For further information on BlackRock click here




QUICK FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE AMAZON AND OUR RAINFORESTS

  • The Amazon rainforest produces 20% of the worlds oxygen which is why it is referred to as the lungs of our planet. This also means that the survival of the Amazon, ensures our future survival too.

  • More species live in the Amazon than anywhere else on the planet and so it is essential for global biodiversity. The rainforest is also responsible for more than 400 million tonnes of carbon uptake every year... but now that it's on fire, not only is the uptake a struggle, but the previously stored carbon is heading right back into our atmosphere.

  • Forest fires are a natural and common occurrence in most forests, these smaller fires help clean the floor of debris and adding nutrients to the soil so that new plants can thrive there. Unfortunately what is happening right now, is not natural at all - and it is completely out of control. Farmers and industry owners have been given the thumbs up to clear away much of the vegetation in order to create the space they need to grow their businesses.

  • In 2016 the recorded number of wildfires was 68,000, we are 3/4 into 2019 and already there have been a staggering 74,000 wildfires, a record setting figure since Bolsonaro came into power. (stats from onetreeplanted)

  • Deforestation is at such a rapid rate, that around 137 rainforest species are wiped out EVERY.SINGLE.DAY across the entire planet. Every second, humans destroy 1.5 acres of rainforest in order to make way for farm land. Surprise surprise, our consumption of meat and dairy advocate deforestation... BUT did you also know, that because the rainforest floor is generally completely isolated from sunlight due to the tree tops absorbing all the light, the soil that is left after the trees have been obliterated is not of a decent farming standard. Meaning that the land is deprived of its natural nutrients and is often left as a useless, wasteful patch of land. (stats from The Inside Track)

  • The rainforests absorb a large amount of heat from the sun, so in effect, they help to cool Mother Earth. According to The Inside Track, burning these rainforests contributes to around 30% of our carbon emissions. How can destroying our wildlife possibly benefit our future generations? If we continue to support deforestation, we could lose our rainforests within the next 40 years. IT IS TIME TO STAND TOGETHER AND MAKE A CHANGE.


10 ways YOU can make an impact on the current deforestation crisis


1. USE YOUR TALENTS


Photographers, artists and film makers can capture the forests, wildlife and its indigenous people through their lens' or on their canvas for media coverage in order to spread awareness of its importance, promote call to action or raise charitable funds through their creative endeavors. Activists or performers can devise campaigns or street theatre, writers can produce articles, sports people can run or play for sponsored events, influencers can share hashtags, begin discussions across social media - but always with a solution! There will always be people willing to share work and words, but what we need is more ACTION. Whatever your talent or passion, use it wisely to inspire a network of like minded small town heroes by doing what you do best, in order to raise money or/and awareness for important causes.


It's crazy how effective the 'domino effect' actually is. Since I personally began posting about plant based diets, my own transitions, conscious living and saving the planet in general, I have seen so many of my friends and followers begin their own transitions too. I am constantly enthralled and inspired by the people I meet, talk to, follow, open discussions with, and so I can only hope that I inspire another, and so on. It takes one person to get the ball rolling, and when people who respect you see you're making a change, it's likely that they will to. We just have to be courageous enough to be the minority for a little while.


2. SIGN A PETITION (OR 20...)


There's no right or wrong here, but this Greenpeace petition is targeting the Brazilian government and demanding that they close the Amazon off to exploitation. Additionally, this petition by Action Network is demanding investment firm BlackRock to back down from their plans to develop their industry further in the rainforest (as mentioned above). It costs nothing and takes only seconds of your time to complete! There are THOUSANDS of petitions out there on the vast web, but hell, if you have the time sign them all...


3. SOCIAL MEDIA


Anyone who has any social media platform can be an influencer for positive change...it doesn't matter if you have 100k followers or only log in to Facebook once a week to snoop on your grandchildren, as long as you reach at least one reader, then you are making a difference. Share, re-post, discuss... but once again, make it your new ploy to try and advocate call-to-action change, rather than just posting a hashtag.


Whether you are a an avid Instagrammer or you just use Twitter for football updates, you can't deny that social media is a crazy impressive and efficient platform for gathering ideas and inspiring content. Someone somewhere will notice you and your efforts. So use these platforms wisely.



4. SWAP YOUR BROWSER FOR ECOSIA


Ecosia is a powerful search engine that plants a tree for every 45 web searches you make through the app! Forget Google and Safari, download Ecosia onto your phone, laptop, work computer etc. and help plant some trees simply by searching for funny cat videos. I have several friends that have downloaded the app onto their smartphone and sit typing in random searches just so they can achieve their first tree planting! I love it when company's bring innovation and cause together, it means that you can contribute to our planet without even being directly conscious that you are doing it *insert meerkat saying simples*.


DOWNLOAD ECOSIA





5. CREATE A CHANGE.ORG PROFILE AND START SIGNING


In addition to finding other petitions to sign, there is CHANGE. No doubt you've signed a handful of these babies before, but if you haven't then all you need to do is create an account and then with quite literally ONE CLICK you can sign your name onto thousands of petitions, calling for change or action regarding everything and anything from animal cruelty to immigration. I have signed the STOP BOLSONARO FROM DESTROYING THE AMAZON petition and deeply encourage you to do the same. It takes seconds to sign and then you are able to opt in to chip in donations, share or simply skip those steps and sign more! The website also lists all its successful victories, evidencing that your individual vote really does matter.


SIGN THE PETITION TO STOP BOLSONARO FROM DESTROYING THE AMAZON


6. DONATE TO RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK AND THE LIKES


Rainforest Action Network "preserves forests, protects the climate and upholds human rights by challenging corporate power and systemic injustice through frontline partnerships and strategic campaigns." Since 1993 they have donated more than one million dollars and stand to protect the people and the planet, whatever means necessary - with little fear as to whether that defies politics. They have provided funding to over 300 front line communities, in nearly 40 countries across 6 continents, and their mission, values and website are undeniably impressive.


After news about the Amazon blaze, RAN have dedicated a funding page to collect donations from those wanting to help/protect the indigenous communities that live there. I made a donation yesterday to the Protect an Acre program (PAA) that will be contributed directly to the front line communities fighting to stop this destruction.


DONATE TO PAA


Alternatively, there are other organisations working alongside RAN to help diminish deforestation:




7. PLANT TREES


For those who are penny conscious (don't feel guilty, it's about giving what you can), there are options to donate as little as $1 to reforestation organisation ONE TREE PLANTED. This amazing company takes your donations and funds reforestation projects in a selection of countries across the globe including Indonesia, Canada, Haiti, the Amazon, Africa, Guatemala and more.


"Newly planted trees will help restore the most severely damaged areas of the Amazon. As they grow, the trees will sequester carbon and release oxygen, but more importantly they will serve as the foundation for rebuilding an entire ecosystem." - One Tree Planted


Hous of Halcyon personally donates directly to this organisation for every paper sale that we make, in order to giveth back what we taketh. One dollar = one planted tree. So if you wanted to plant ten trees, it only costs $10. Feel free to read OUR ECO PROMISE which explains exactly what ONE TREE PLANTED do and how you can join them!


PLANT A TREE




8. LIVE MORE CONSCIOUSLY


I am striving to make my lifestyle a more conscious and meaningful one. It isn't something that happens overnight but if we can all make an effort to reduce single-use plastic in our homes and workplaces, recycle, consume less, support local businesses, shop secondhand or vintage, swap and trade, re-use, up-cycle, repurpose... then we will eventually get to a state where the big businesses realise that the crap they are trying to manipulate us all into buying has no further manufacturing value. Switch to using shampoo bars instead of bottles, metal safety razors, bamboo toothbrushes, refillable water bottles, metallic coffee cups, moon cups etc etc. You've seen and heard it all before, but have you done anything about it?


We will soon realise that our lifestyles and consumer demand are the biggest contributors to the climate crisis, and we can tackle it in small doses from our very home. This won't necessarily put trees back into the rainforest, but it will reduce further damage from all the other regions of our modern life that are affecting the planet.


SUSTAINABLE BRANDS




9. SWITCH TO A PLANT BASED DIET / REDUCE YOUR MEAT CONSUMPTION


You surely know the drill by now; vegans and veggies want YOU on board. I understand that it's hard to imagine giving up the beef on your Sunday roast every week, thinking that one small change to your diet won't aid the entire planet. BUT YOU AND YOUR DECISIONS DO MATTER, AND COUNT FOR SOMETHING. Even if you can only 'cut down' on your meat intake, if all Americans joined in with Meat Free Monday, then it would save 1.4 billion (!!!) animals from being factory farmed (stats from UpWorthy).


Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of the Amazon’s destruction, by consuming meat we create demand, by creating demand we are allowing companies such as BlackRock to carve their paths into our forests, destroying essential natural resources for their greed, and ours. By purchasing fast food, burgers, bacon... we are still contributing to this ghastly industry by encouraging more of these firms to grow and expand. According to bioethicist Peter Singer; there are 1.4 billion people living in abject poverty, but the problem is not that the world is running out of food, it's because we consume four/five times as much as we should in more affluent regions of the world and use much of these grains to feed the livestock that we then go and slaughter. Even the soya that is grown in the rainforest that is used for animal consumption is damaging the ecosystem - if we gave all the grains and food we use for fattening up cattle to humans, then we could eradicate human poverty once and for all.


"Each day, a person who eats a plant-based diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life." - Pachamama Alliance


Useful links for further reading and understanding of how agriculture affects our earth:


READ MY EXPERIENCE OF TURNING VEGETARIAN



10. SUPPORT US ON ETSY!


Of course, when you are an artist working on paper, it is expected that many trees shall fall to your endeavor in order to continue creating. That is why I have pledged that for every paper sale I make from my illustrations, $1 of it will be donated to ONE TREE PLANTED, where that dollar will be transformed into a tree in my chosen location. If you wish to donate to ONE TREE PLANTED but want a lil somet' somet' in return to stick on your wall or frame in your office, then head over to my Etsy page where you can purchase a print in A4, A5 or postcard size!


Not only are you supporting the cause but supporting a start-up business owner too (yay! happy dance). There are hundreds of other awesome brands out there that also donate to wildlife and planetary conservation charities, so next time you're shopping try and suss out the company's that are making a difference through your purchases.


SHOP HOUSOFHALCYON ON ETSY


It is vital that we merge our talents, passions, ambitions and beliefs together in order to seek justice for our planet. Everybody can contribute - it is up to you as an individual to take a stand and demand that we advance forward. Thank you so much for reading and an ever lasting love to those who take action once they leave this page.


- A


"The greatest threat to our earth, is the belief that someone else will save it"

- Robert Swan


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© 2019 by Annabel Emery