Amazon Aid is proud to announce we are an official organizational endorser of the Week of Moral Action for Climate Change. During the week of September 21, thousands of people will come together in our nation’s capital and across the country joining Pope Francis as he addresses Congress to underscore the moral aspect of the climate crisis, and to call the United States to heed its moral duty to act for climate justice.

Amazon Aid has the privilege to be part of the People’s Rally for Climate Justice, an incredible public rally on the National Mall organized by Earth Day Network and Moral Action for Climate, a coalition of faith-based groups. The purpose of the rally is to greet Pope Francis in our nation’s capital, celebrate his leadership on the climate crisis and call upon our elected officials to step up and respond to Francis’s plea with bold leadership of their own. We’ll be showing some of our stunning videos of the Amazon rainforest before presenting renowned tropical biologist Dr. Tom Lovejoy of the United Nations Foundation to speak on the importance of the Amazon in terms of our global climate.

In his recently released Encyclical titled Laudato Si’, Pope Francis warns us, “Our common home is in danger.” Saving it requires shifting from the burning of fossil fuels for energy, which is largely responsible for the current climate crisis, and instead moving towards a resilient low-carbon economy where development and the environment can exist in harmony. With less than 100 days until the international climate talks in Paris, this month is a critical turning point for the climate movement.

“A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis: On Care for Our Common Home

In addition to his pleas to global leaders to take action on climate by divesting from fossil fuels, Pope Francis has been an advocate for the protection of the Amazon rainforest and the people who live there. Speaking at the University of Molise this past summer, Francis spoke of the destruction of South America’s rainforests calling deforestation a sin: “When I look at America, also my own homeland (South America), so many forests, all cut, that have become land … that can longer give life (sic). This is our sin, exploiting the Earth and not allowing her to her (sic) give us what she has within her.”

The Amazon rainforest is one of the most important forests for mitigating the effects of climate change. Pristine Amazon forests release oxygen and pull in more carbon dioxide than they release helping to lower the planet’s greenhouse gas levels. By cutting down and burning trees not only are we releasing dangerous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, but we are destroying one of our best natural defenses against climate change. 20% of all global carbon emissions are from deforestation and land conversion, more than the total amount emitted from cars, planes, and trains combined. Unfortunately, the Amazon is at a tipping point. At the current rate of destruction the Amazon could be gone in 40 years.

For this reason, Amazon Aid is proud to be bringing in Dr. Tom Lovejoy, Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation and Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University, to speak to the audience on the importance of protecting the Amazon for our global climate. Lovejoy is an accomplished tropical biologist who coined the term “biological diversity”. He has previously served as director of the conservation program at World Wildlife Fund-U.S., Assistant Secretary for Environmental and External Affairs for the Smithsonian Institution, and chief biodiversity adviser to the President of the World Bank.  At the core of these many influential positions are Lovejoy’s seminal ideas, which have formed and strengthened the field of conservation biology.  In the 1980s, he brought international attention to the world’s tropical rainforests, and in particular, the Brazilian Amazon, where he has worked since 1965.  With two co-edited books (1992 and 2005), he is credited with founding the field of climate change biology. He and Lee Hannah are working on the Second Edition of Climate Change and Biodiversity.

Tom LovejoyPrior to Lovejoy’s speech, we’ll be showcasing video of the Amazon rainforest, showing its beauty and destruction side by side, to transport the audience of thousands on the National Mall to the heart of the Amazon in a multimedia journey to get a feel for what’s at stake if we do not all come together to fight for forests and act on climate.

Please join Amazon Aid on the National Mall the morning of September 24 for what is sure to be an historic moment in the fight for our planet.