Indigenous Groups Fight for the Amazon, Their Home

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One big concern environmentalists have is people who are hesitant to believe climate change is happening cannot see how it affects their day to day life. Changes in weather may not be as prominent in some locations in the world, but there are people who are experiencing the effects of climate change in real time: the indigenous people who live within the Amazon rainforest, who spend their entire lives in the forest. They are noticing differences in their day to day lives: hotter temperatures, changes in water elevation, and different kinds of vegetation. Chief Raoni Metuktire, head of the Kayapò indigenous group from the Xingu region, has been traveling and giving lectures to raise awareness about the issues the Amazon has – from the perspective of someone who lives there. He is hoping to use the attention the World Cup in Brazil is getting to reach out and educate fans.

“When I’m gone I want my children and grandchildren to live in the forest as I have done,” he says. “I ask for your help. In the past, we didn’t knock down the trees, destroy the land and build dams, but now all that is happening. The climate in the forest is changing: it is a lot hotter than it used to be, and the pattern of the winds is altering.” – Chief Raoni Metuktire

Two major problems the forest and the people who live in it face are the continuing increase of deforestation and the building of dams. While deforestation has been in decline for the past few years, from 2012 to 2013 the practice increased by about 28%. Many believe this is due to recent controversial reforms to Brazil’s forest laws. Dams are being built throughout the Amazon River and its tributaries, including the Belo Monte dam which will be one of the largest in the world once it is completed.

The Kayapò, the largest ethnic group in the Xingu region, have spoken up in the past and succeeded in getting 19,000 square miles of land set aside as an indigenous reserve in 1992. The land they are trying to save is not just for themselves and their future generations, it is for everyone who depends on the forest for food and who needs medicine that is derived from its plants. This entire area acts as a huge carbon sink for the Earth, and as time goes on people will look back and realize how they needed the Amazon to help stabilize weather patterns, keep the air clean, and sustain vital ecosystems.


 

Original story by Kieran Cooke

 

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