As announced on Monday, September 6, a severe dry period has resulted in the parching of Brazil’s flora- and fauna-rich Amazon basin forest and Pantanal area, with officials calling it the worst since 1973.
The arid conditions have also sparked some 1,200 wildfires, prompting an environmental emergency to be declared in 15 of the nation’s 26 states. Having just faced historic floods in 2009 due to a record rise in Amazon River water levels, several communities in Amazonas state now find themselves facing the opposite extreme as they have been isolated by drought and can no longer be accessed by boat, only by foot through the forest.
Water navigation in general has been seriously hampered, with the Juruá River nearly run dry and water levels of Pantanal’s Chacore Bay, the third largest in Brazil, having dropped significantly.
Over 80,000 people are currently estimated to have been affected, and the regional government is sending food and water supplies. Meanwhile in neighboring Peru, the Amazon River is noted to be at its lowest level in 40 years, with officials expressing concern over expected food shortages and disease as they brace for an extended dry period similar to one that occurred five years ago.
Robert Falcon of Peru's civil defense agency said, “The scientists are already saying that because of climate change these events will become more frequent.”
We appreciate the efforts of the Brazilian government and other officials to ease this challenging situation as we join in concern for the grave effects of these climate-related changes.
Let us all strive to foster a more balanced ecosphere for the survival and comfort of all life on Earth. In an October 2009 address to government magistrates and judges in Mexico, Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke of the dire effects of climate change, while appealing for the swift measures necessary to effectively halt them.