The Other Amazon, Forgotten


Credit: Pixabay

Sarah Aguilar, Contributor

It had taken all of 10 minutes before everyone knew that Notre Dame’s roof was letting out light puffs of smoke.

It took an entire 13 days for news outlets to report that the Amazon rainforest in its entirety was on fire and burning down.

The Amazon has been on Earth longer than man, providing the world with 30% of its oxygen and housing some of the most ancient, untouched, and indigenous civilizations. In contrast, while still a beautiful piece of Gothic architecture, Notre Dame was started in the 12th century and finished in the 16th, constructed entirely by man. The Amazon is built on a delicate ecosystem, sustained by the people who guard it, its unique animal life, and the vital plants throughout. Notre Dame, on the other hand, is constructed out of expensive marble worth more than 38% of the yearly income of half the population of France.

And yet, in the short space of a week, Notre Dame had $1 billion donated to its reconstruction, plans already set in place for its revival. In contrast, the Amazon is still on fire, struggling to receive donations, and slowly dying as we sit and watch. 

This raises the obvious, timeless question: why?

Why are thousands of people willing to donate millionsin some cases even billionsof dollars to restore an 800-year-old building, while the Amazon, a precious rainforest, old as the earth, is given the cold shoulder? It has been shunned even as a priority of world leaders, skipped over by millions browsing on their phones. 

The answer is less dramatic or scientific then most like to believe. 

There is a certain numbness that comes with the current events, in which each day there is something new to grieve. The tragedies all begin to meld together into one overwhelming sense of dread. There is not enough time to truly process the severity of the situation when, in a couple of hours time, there is already a new crisis to take its place. With each article on the polar ice caps melting, there is a news report that there are only eight months left before the planet is unable to save them. 

It is truly terrifying to know that those in charge do not care about the future of the younger generations. They are willing to double down on their greed and sit safely on top of their riches as they watch the world burn, literally and figuratively. And when their time comes to rest safely in their tombs, it is we who must suffer as we struggle for air and watch as animals we learned in nursery rhymes become extinct. But that is a future we do not dare think about, do not dare acknowledge, perhaps in the hopes that as long as it remains unspoken, it will never come true. 

Given how often these terrifying articles and statistics appear on our timelines, they seem to be less and less real in our minds. With each passing day, we believe a bit less in the true severity of the situation, refusing to acknowledge that as we go through our day, the earth is dying.

And at the end of the day, no matter what we want to believe, it is our burden to bear.