An area of Amazon rainforest burned by a farmer


© Reuters / Ricardo Moraes


The Amazon rainforest is one of the Earth’s greatest natural allies: it not only releases oxygen into the atmosphere but generates rain, cools the planet, absorbs greenhouse gases, combats desertification, produces food and water and is home to 10% of the world’s biodiversity. Unfortunately the Amazon’s full-time dedication to nature is not appreciated. Man is an unscrupulous animal and evidently considers life as less valuable than money. In 2019, 12 million hectares of forest were burned in Amazonia – equivalent to 17% of its trees – in a series of largely intentional fires, lit by crop and livestock farmers to extend the land available to agriculture and pasture. Fire, however, is not easy to control and a small spark can grow into an unstoppable wildfire as if to punish the man who started it. In 2019 alone, around 233,000 blazes were recorded.
But what sort of heritage are we leaving to future generations? Deforestation on this scale will reduce our supply of oxygen, without mentioning the fact that wildfires release massive quantities of carbon dioxide, contributing to the scourge of global warming. The wings of a butterfly can start a tornado of irresistible destructive power.

Vincenzo Guasco