Gisele Bündchen is shining a light on the impact the record-breaking Amazon rainforest fires have on the world, as well as calling out all the “opportunists” who have had a hand in devastating the region over the years.
“The increased burnings have been destroying in days, what nature takes years, centuries to build,” the supermodel added. “I’ve spent a lot of time there and was able to see closely how everything happens, especially how opportunists take advantage of the dry season to destroy and clear the forest. Deforestation in the Amazon has to stop…for our health and the health of our planet!”
According to recent data released by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the forest lost 870 square miles of vegetation in July alone, which is between three and five times the amount lost in the same month during the past four years, the Associated Press reported.
There have been 72,843 fires in Brazil this year (with more than half in its Amazon region), and satellite images have spotted 9,507 new forest fires in the county — mostly in the Amazon basin — since Aug. 15, CNN and Reuters previously reported, citing the INPE.
Numerous environmentalists have said the blazes were likely set by cattle ranchers and farmers in an attempt to clear the land for their own use.
“The vast majority of these fires are human-lit,” Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organization Amazon Watch, previously told CNN.
“This year’s fires fit into an established seasonal agricultural pattern,” added CNN meteorologist Haley Brink. “[Farmers] wait for the dry season and they start burning and clearing the areas so that their cattle can graze. And that’s what we’re suspecting is going on down there.”
Bündchen, a Brazil native who has been vocal about the need to protect the Amazon for years, also shared a clip from the National Geographic series Years of Living Dangerously, which focuses on climate change.
“The rainforest is doing us a huge service for free,” she says in the clip. “We’re not walking around thinking, ‘Okay heart, do your function, pump the blood.’ We’re just walking around like nothing is happening while our body is doing so much work to keep us alive. And that’s exactly what the rainforest is doing. It’s doing so much work for us to keep us alive.”
“I want to do something now before it’s too late,” she adds.
The Amazon, known as “the planet’s lungs,” produces 20 percent of Earth’s oxygen and is a key factor in combating climate change, according to CNN.
According to a 2011 study by the U.S. Forest Service, the world’s forests are responsible for absorbing 2.4 billion tons of carbon annually, which is about one-third of global fossil fuel emissions. The Amazon, which covers 2.12 million square miles, is responsible for absorbing about one-quarter of that amount, the Huffington Post reported.
In a 2016 op-ed for the Washington Post, which was written just days after the Rio Olympics, Bündchen encouraged people around the globe to keep Brazil, and the Amazon rainforest, in their minds.
“We are all connected; what happens in the Amazon affects not only Brazil but everyone across the world,” she wrote. “Population growth and greed are putting the Amazon under intense pressure. But we must remember that natural resources are finite, and if we exhaust them, we will change life on Earth forever.”
“We cannot afford to put Brazil in the rearview mirror after the Rio Olympics. Even if there aren’t athletes to cheer on or medals to be won, we all have a stake in what happens in Brazil. This is the only home we have,” she added. “Unlike the races in Rio this past month, the race against climate change is not winner takes all — it will take all of us working together to win.”