What you can do to help save the Amazon rainforest

Published: Aug. 27, 2019 at 2:23 PM EDT
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The Amazon rainforest has been burning for three weeks now. It is easy to feel helpless being more than 3,000 miles away from the forest. But the Amazon Aid Foundation in Charlottesville has ways you can help.

"To lose the Amazon rainforest will be catastrophic in terms of climate change,” said Jana Gamble, project manager of the Amazon Aid Foundation.

She said they have been working nonstop trying to get the word out about why people need to be paying attention to the fires tearing through the rainforest.

"The Amazon rainforest is a carbon sink,” said Gamble. “It actually stores about a hundred years worth of carbon emissions and then releases oxygen. When we burn the trees, we are releasing carbon dioxide that's stored and then we're also releasing carbon dioxide through the burning of the trees."

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that scientists say is the biggest contributor to global warming.

"In the next 24 hours, the burning of the rainforest worldwide will produce as much carbon dioxide as eight million people flying from London to New York,” said Gamble.

One way you can help save the forest is by donating to the foundation, but you can also do more than that. Watching where you buy things like your gold jewelry, and who you buy from, can make a difference.

"It takes about 250 tons of earth to produce a simple wedding ring. And if that gold is produced in the Amazon rainforest, it's also mined using mercury," said Gamble."They either burn off the mercury from the gold nugget that they get. Or, if they don't get any gold, they'll pour the mercury back into the water, so it goes everywhere."

Eating less meat can also help.

"A lot of the ranchers that caused these fires actually were clearing land for pasture,” said Gamble. “The deforestation is directly correlated to the meat that we eat."

She also said to contact your local representatives and vote for environmental protection.

On Sept. 19, the Amazon Aid Foundation will release a film sharing more on the dangers of gold mining in the Amazon rainforest, titled, "River of Gold." Find the trailer to the film, and where to donate on the organization's website