'Time running out to address climate chaos’

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The world is in the midst of "climate chaos," and time is running out to do something about it, according to the head of a nonprofit environmental group.

"There is no more important fight for the environmental movement than in Brazil right now. We stand together in exceptionally dangerous times as the new regime in Brazil has declared its intention to plunder the rainforest and violate indigenous rights," Leila Salazar-Lopez, the executive director of Amazon Watch, told Anadolu Agency.

Stressing the serious danger that rainforests face today, Lopez said this is maybe the last generation that has an opportunity to protect "the world's cultural and ecological heritage".

She underlined that most of the deforestation in Brazil is generated by agricultural industries, including U.S.-origin companies operating in the Amazon.

'Protecting Amazon to protect climate'

Lopez said it is essential to protect the Amazon rainforest in order to protect the climate.

"The Amazon is also known as the 'heart of the Earth' for its role in regulating regional, continental and global climates, ocean currents and weather patterns. Hence, [this is] why protecting the Amazon is essential for protecting the climate, or at least slowing/mitigating climate chaos."

She noted the rainforests are not only important for producing oxygen but also play a significant role in absorbing tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

The Amazon "is widely known as the "Lungs of the Earth," producing 20% of the Earth's oxygen, and as a vast carbon sink, absorbing more than 1 billion tons of atmospheric carbon that is emitted annually by the burning of fossil fuels."

Speaking on the key role of the Amazon rainforest in sustaining life, she said it harbors one-third of animal and plant species and produces one-fifth of fresh flowing water.

Climate chaos

Lopez underscored that there is a limited window in which something can be done.

"We are no longer talking about taking action on climate change because we are living in the midst of climate chaos. From fires in the Amazon and California to floods in Florida and Bangladesh, this is climate chaos," she said.

She warned that the world has a maximum of 10 years to take action against climate change "to stop climate chaos and protect life on Mother Earth", referring to a report by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that warns world governments to take action.

She said people should follow the lead of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has been encouraging youth to get involved in the cause.

The 16-year-old environmentalist launched her protest outside Sweden's parliament last year and has continued her activism in Sweden and Europe.

"Governments must do better. It is not enough just to reduce emissions; all fossil fuels should be kept in the ground, and a just transition to 100% renewables must be made as soon as possible," Lopez said, referring to countries that have not kept their promises on the climate issue despite making pledges during the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.

International days

"International Days of Action, including World Rainforest Day, are opportunities to gather in community to raise global awareness, stand in solidarity with frontline communities and apply pressure to policymakers and corporations," she said.

"Considering the threats to the world's rainforests, it is critical that we come together to [take a] stand for the rainforests, communities and the climate."

World Rainforest Day was launched in 2017 by the international nonprofit organization Rainforest Partnership as a collaborative effort to raise awareness and encourage action to protect the world's rainforests.

Amazon Watch is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforests and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. It also partners with indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon's ecological systems, according to its website.

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