This Sunday (5) is celebrated the day of the Amazon, considered one of the main forests in the world, with such a great diversity of species that much of it is not even known by science.
In addition to the beauty and environmental services provided to Brazil, the Amazon is a critical point in the climate change scenario — the region should suffer profound impacts, but if properly protected, it can help to minimize negative consequences in the future.
“No effect on the Amazon is restricted to the region. The Amazon is a crucial key to the Brazilian and global climate system. If it loses its balance, it destabilizes a lot in the rest of the world”, says biologist Caio Mattos, explorer at Nat Geo that develops research in forest ecology and hydrology.
View of the Amazon River (credits: worldclassphoto/Shutterstock)
According to Mattos, the increase in global temperature, which should make extreme events more and more frequent, whether linked to heat or cold, should have dramatic effects on the future of the Amazon.
“What is likely to happen is the occurrence of longer and longer periods of drought and the rains, when they fall, become more intense and concentrated in a shorter period of time”, says the scientist. The alternation between these two scenarios a more brusque way should interfere with the functioning of the forest as a whole.
“The level of rivers should decrease, and cities [que dependem dessas águas para o transporte] they can be isolated”, Caio Mattos (biologist and explorer at Nat Geo)
The increase in fires, favored by drought, not only harm animal life — the smoke has a direct impact on the health of the local population, bringing public health problems.
An article published earlier this month by an international group of researchers concluded that up to 85% of threatened species in the Amazon have been impacted by fires since 2001. The study was published in the scientific journal Nature.
The rest of the country also suffers from the Amazon, says Mattos. “The rainfall regime in the South and Southeast is linked to the Amazon. At least part of the water crisis that we are suffering now may be related to fires and the impact on the transport of moisture”, he says.
What can be done
Can we reverse the dramatic predictions? For Mattos it is possible, at least in parts. But, for this, actions must be taken at all levels, from the federal government to each Brazilian, passing through civil society organizations, which can press for more concrete and efficient attitudes.
According to the scientist, investments in research — successively cut in recent years — are essential and need to be resumed and expanded to face the future that awaits us.
“Scientific research is the only way for us to prepare. Without research, we do not know what is going to happen, or when, and we cannot prepare ourselves to reduce the impacts”, Caio Mattos (biologist and explorer at Nat Geo)
The report by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), linked to the UN (United Nations), published in early August, shows, with the massive compilation of scientific data on the world’s climate, that some of the effects of climate change can be reversed or at least limited; but the action needs to be quick.
In the report, the scientists further claim that while these changes in temperature are expected naturally, it is now clear that the speed and intensity of climate change is related to human action.
Illegally deforested area in the Jamanxim National Park, in the Amazon (credits: PARALAXIS/Shutterstock)
According to Mattos, Brazil can act in two main axes: to zero emissions of greenhouse gases (largely responsible for global warming) and act to preserve nature, which can minimize the negative impacts of the increase in temperature in the world.
“Unfortunately, in recent years, since the beginning of the Bolsonaro government, we have noticed a significant growth in deforestation”, says the biologist. “The solution to the climate crisis must go through all levels; states and municipalities also need to act,” he says.
At the individual level, Mattos suggests rethinking consumption. “Where and how is the food I’m buying produced? Today, there are easy ways to track how companies are doing their part. We can also reduce the consumption of meat, which requires a lot of water and land and is deadly for the climate,” he says.
“Consumption is our environmental footprint. We need to rethink where we put our money”, concludes Mattos.