The lungs of the planet.
You don't appreciate how important your lungs are, until they stop finding oxygen to breathe. The Amazon rain forest is estimated to provide 20 percent of oxygen to the whole planet.
The fires currently burning in the Amazon are a global climate crisis that can't be ignored.
Unfortunately, we've got the Trump administration throwing tantrums at the G-7 Summit about even discussing climate change:
Senior administration officials quoted by the New York Times among others [complained] the summit had moved from core issues such as global economics and trade to “niche issues” such as climate change, gender equality and development in Africa. The topics were chosen to appeal to Macron supporters, and even to embarrass Trump, who pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, they said, as protesters marched the streets of the French city calling for action to tackle the fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest.
“It’s our view that with France trying to drive these other issues outside of global economics, national security and trade, they’re trying to fracture the G7,” one official told White House reporter Gabby Orr.
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro had previously complained about rain forest protection as damaging to developing the Brazilian economy, though the fires have now grown so large that he announced that he is sending the military to help fight them.
But as naturalist Paul Rosolie says, that may not be enough to prevent the Amazon from collapsing.
"The Amazon is a loop. It's producing the moisture that creates all that rain that makes it a rainforest," said Rosolie, who wrote about his experiences in the jungle in his 2014 book, "Mother of God."
"As we chop more of the rainforest down – and this has been going on for decades, this is not an isolated issue — as we chop more of the rainforest, what we're risking is reaching a tipping point, where that moisture system might be too dry to produce the rain. And then you have a serious problem on your hands, because you're talking about the entire Amazon sort of collapsing."
Deforestation has increased since Bolsonaro took office last year. Hundreds of fires are being set in order to clear the rainforest for agricultural use.
When asked why Bolsonaro doesn't seem to be taking the fires as seriously as other international leaders, Rosolie said that "The standing rainforest, while it's producing ecosystem services for all of us, it's not making money for him. And so that may need to change … it's really short term gain versus health for everybody, and long term health for the planet."
If that's not enough to scare you, I don't know what will.