Sustainable actions at home help offset Amazon fires

By Reghan Thibodeaux
Pulse Staff Reporter

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

More than 74,000 fires have been raging through the Amazon rainforest in Brazil since January, releasing carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, which could speed up climate change.

When trees are cut and burned, the carbon they are storing is released into the atmosphere and the rainforest’s capacity to absorb carbon is reduced.

The recent increase in the number of forest fires in the Amazon can be directly tied to intentional deforestation and not a result of the dry season, according to the Amazon Environmental Research Institute. IPAM’s director Ane Alencar said fires were often used as a way of clearing land for cattle and ranches.

“They cut the trees, leave wood to dry and later put fire to it, so that the ashes can fertilize the soil,” she said on the Mahogany website.

2019 is not the worst year recorded in history. 2005 saw more than 142,000 fires in the first eight months of the year. Forest fires are most common during the dry season, which runs from July to October. These fires can be caused by naturally occurring events, such as lightning strikes. However, this year’s fires are believed to be started by farmers and loggers who are clearing land for crops and grazing.

The destruction of the rainforest, the lungs of planet Earth, may be far away from where we are. However, we can do a variety of sustainable actions to help our planet. We can carpool, walk, bike or take the bus to reduce our carbon footprint. We may also refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle, meaning don’t impulse buy, buy used items, donate old or unwanted items, and recycle metal, glass, plastic, paper, cardboard, newspapers, books and magazines.

Hector Garcia, a Business Administration major at Palo Alto College, gave some tips on recycling, “Having trash recycle bins, using a different alternative to plastic straws, and limiting the use of plastic bags.”

Unplug your electronic devices when they’re not in use. Each device, such as your phone, TV, computer and charger, consumes about five percent of your monthly electricity bill.

Carlos Aguilar, a Sociology major at PAC, said, “Using refillable water bottles” instead of plastic water bottles can help the planet.

Instead of using paper towels, choosing cloth is another way to be eco-friendly. Repurpose old t-shirts as cleaning rags.

Professor Elizabeth Montgomery, a Geology professor at PAC, said, “Reduce your consumption. Do you really need to use straws every time you eat out? Do you really need plastic bags every time you go to HEB, or can you use reusable bags?”

Sustainability means reducing the amount of natural resources you use in everyday life. This can ensure the planet will be able to maintain all of the natural resource’s Earth’s inhabitants need to survive.

PAC students are invited to participate in The Fifth Annual EcoExchangeEdu showcase on April 3, 2020. Area college and university students will share their work, both academic and artistic, surrounding sustainability. Follow facebook.com/EcoExchangeEdu.SA for more information.

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