If you’re on social media, you’ve surely seen the devastating images of the fires currently ravaging the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. This delicate and ancient ecosystem is burning at its highest rate since 2013, threatening millions of species of plants and animals, indigenous tribes, and the climate of our entire planet.
If you are outraged and heartbroken, you are not alone. Southwest Institute of Healing Arts is a community of healers, and together we can consciously contribute to the well-being of our planet.
What You Should Know
- 160 unique societies consisting of 300,000 individuals call the Amazon rainforest home.
- Ten percent of the world’s biodiversity is found is the Amazon, with a new species being discovered every two days.
- In 2019 alone, there have been almost 40,000 fires reported in the Amazon rainforest.
- One-and-a-half soccer fields of precious habitat are being destroyed every minute of every day.
- Deforestation has increased 80% over the last year to make room for agriculture, mostly consisting of beef and dairy cattle.
- Smoke from the fires is covering half of Brazil and has begun to move in to Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay.
- The Amazon rainforest is the source of 20% of our planet’s oxygen. If the rainforest does not recover, it could become a source of carbon dioxide and drive climate change.
Dealing With Your Climate Anxiety & Grief
While there is no clinical term for the anxiety caused by the looming threat of climate change, polls have shown that Americans are increasingly worried about global warming. In March 2017, the American Psychological Association released a 69-page guide for mental health care providers specifically addressing the issue of distress due to global warming.
It states: “It is time to expand information and action on climate and health, including mental health. The health, economic, political, and environmental implications of climate change affect all of us. The tolls on our mental health are far reaching. They induce stress, depression, and anxiety; strain social and community relationships; and have been linked to increases in aggression, violence, and crime. Children and communities with few resources to deal with the impacts of climate change are those most impacted.”
Some practices for individuals recommended by the APA to reduce ecoanxiety include:
- Make and practice household emergency plans.
- Participate in mindset training to increase awareness of emotions.
- Care for oneself through healthy habits.
- Connect with family, friends, neighbors, and other groups to build strong social networks.
- Create or visit a green space to reduce stress.
- Physical commuting, such as walking and biking.
- Build belief in one’s own resilience.
- Maintain activities that help to provide a sense of meaning.
How to Take Action
While much of the damage inflicted is already irreversible, organizations, activists and world leaders are calling on the global population to help in any way possible. Some of the best ways to combat this devastation include:
Donate to reputable organizations:
- Amazon Watch has partnered with indigenous communities since 1996, protecting their rights and the rights of the rainforest they call home. Donations go to their work with indigenous communities, campaigns for corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological system.
- Rainforest Alliance is working in public and private sectors to pressure the Brazilian government to enforce defense against activities harmful to the Amazon rainforest, including illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture. One-hundred-percent of their donations are currently being directed to frontline groups in Brazil.
- Rainforest Action Network runs a Protect-an-Acre program, which has distributed over one hundred million dollars to frontline communities and Indigenous-led organizations to help secure protection for forests around the world. Donations support land title initiatives, development of sustainable economic alternatives and building grassroots resistance to destructive industrial activities.
- Pay attention to where your goods are sourced from (See Rainforest Alliance’s list of certified safe products). Potentially harmful commodities include:
- Beef and leather
- Wood and paper products
- Palm oil
- Don’t let the ever-changing news cycle distract you or dishearten you. Stay informed and be vocal. Action steps include:
- Click here to sign the petition calling for the UK government to put the Amazon emergency first on the G7 agenda.
- Learn how to eat more sustainably with this guide by the World Wildlife Federation.
- Share news articles and messages of support on social media.
- Hold the plants, animals and indigenous peoples in prayer.
- Gather fellow healers and send supporting and healing energy to the forest.