(From Kritee Kanko) What do we do when Earth’s once fire-proof lungs are on fire?
For one, we must allow our body to FEEL the gravity of the situation, not go back to old ways of being and only then choose actions that are in line with how we feel. Small donations should not give us permission to go back to business as usual work, community and family lifestyle!
The Amazonian rainforest—an irreplaceable part of what makes life on Earth possible—is burning at a record rate due to deforestation for the past few weeks. The new Bolsanaro government regime is encouraging encroachment of indigenous lands. Those of you who have seen me presenting tipping points for life on the planet have probably heard me say that Amazon rainforest is the LUNG of the planet that produces ~10% of oxygen on the planet (corrected from 20%) while sequestering 25% of all carbon dioxide sequestered by the forests. It makes 50% of its own rain. It is totally alive as a system and makes all life possible on the planet! We are surely in a climate emergency.
Needless to say, the world hasn’t ended and that means we have the chance to do whatever we can and must do to reduce suffering. I hope we people of faith including my fellow Buddhists will cover this news in their formal and casual conversations with communities (sanghas), friends and family regardless of how news channels cover this.
Here is what we can do in the short and the long term:
1. Allow emotions and don’t go back to business as usual: I request you to please allow the gravity of the climate problem to settle in your body and not rush to act. Making small donations to any organization does not give us right to go back to business as usual. This stuff is huge for us as a society or “civilization”. Can we allow emotions and let them guide us instead of saying I did what I could and now need to go back to my normal life? We need very deep resistance and resilience to be able to protect mother Earth for the most vulnerable humans and countless species. We can’t directly firefight the fires but we can change the mindset of individuals and systems (including families, governments and corporations) that encourages these fires and/or contributes to stealing of land from indigenous people.
2. Personal footprint:
a) Please ask what we are asking of the world’s forests in our own lives? Can we stop or lower our meat (especially beef) consumption: most clearing of forests happens for raising livestock or growing soybeans for raising cattle or palm oil and avocados? Indigenous people have made calls to stop all beef. (Link)
b) Do we need exotic wood for our furniture? You could double-check with Rainforest Alliance that what you’re buying is rainforest-safe.
3. Bottom up approaches: Support grassroots organizations (based on CNET)
— Amazon Watch (my top choice based on recommendation from indigenous networks): an organization that protects the rainforest, defends Indigenous rights and works to address climate change.
— Ask large banks/investors from investing in destruction of amazon.
— Donate to the Rainforest Trust to help buy land in the rainforest. Since 1988, the organization has saved over 23 million acres and counting.
— Explore Change.org petition to mobilize an investigation into the Amazonian fires.
—- Contact your elected officials and make your voice heard with US department of state (link within CNET article).
—- Sign Greenpeace’s petition telling the Brazilian government to save the Amazon rainforest and protect the lands of Indigenous and traditional communities.
4. Top down approaches: Learn the top-down carbon pricing approach of EDF and other big greens to protect tropical forests. I will not add my opinion of this long term approach but want to tell you how top down organizations think! (link)