Cristiano Ronaldo has called for greater protection of the Amazon in the wake of the recent wildfires ripping through the rainforest.
The number of fires has increased dramatically in recent months, destroying huge areas of the forest, predominantly in Brazil.
The Juventus forward said on twitter: “The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and it’s been burning for the past 3 weeks. It’s our responsibility to help to save our planet. #prayforamazonia."
The Amazon, the largest rainforest on the planet, has seen fires increase 83% in the last year, having a devastating effect on an area that plays a vital role in Earth’s ecosystem. As well as having more than three million species of animals and plants within it, the forest is also home to approximately one million indigenous people.
After initially telling international donors that their financial contributions were not required, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has now claimed that the country is ill-equipped to deal with the disaster.
He said: "The Amazon is bigger than Europe, how will you fight criminal fires in such an area? We do not have the resources for that."
Although naturally occurring fires are not uncommon in the Amazon during the dry season, farmers also set fire to areas to clear land for cattle ranching, something that is illegal. A sharp increase in this practice, along with the damage caused by climate change, has meant that there have been more than 72,000 fires in Brazil so far in 2019.
Many Brazilians point a portion of the blame towards Bolsonaro for pledging to develop areas that rely heavily on mining and farming when he came into power at the beginning of the year, despite conservationists warning it would be detrimental to the rainforest.
Manchester United’s Chris Smalling has also taken to social media to highlight the issue. The defender, who is also a vegan, raised the issue of cattle farming as a contributing problem.
He said: “The leading cause of the Amazon’s deforestation is cattle ranching and wild fires are deliberately started in an effort to support this. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse emissions...more than the combined exhaust from all transportation and the fires alone release huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.
“The Amazon rainforest slows down the pace of Global Warming and it’s been on fire for over 2 whole weeks...!! This post is not about ‘you’re a footballer, focus on the pitch’, I’m a human being with a family that would like to see this planet thriving. If I can use my platform to help, that’s what I’m going to do. We need to stop the ignorance and all work to make a change!”
Uruguay and Barcelona forward Luis Suarez tweeted: “Much strength to the lungs of our world. Let’s fight together to take care of it.”
While Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton wrote on Instagram: “It is devastating to see our world suffer. More than a soccer field is being destroyed every minute everyday, the world needs to come together and help.
“If you haven’t already, please post about it, it is vital we continue to spark action.”
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