The Amazon rainforest is on fire. It’s been burning for several weeks and the flames are so bad that NASA can see them from space. One search engine company says it can help.
Ecosia.org is a search engine that plants about 1 tree for every 40 to 50 searches on average. The site sees about 71 million searches per week. In total, Ecosia has planted over 65 million trees throughout the world since the company started back in 2009.
In response to the fires in the Amazon, Ecosia is planting even more — an additional one million trees in the Brazilian rainforest to help make up for the biodiversity lost in the flames.
“Any kind of help is currently needed in these areas in Brazil,” Ecosia CEO Christian Kroll told Digital Trends, adding that Brazil was now their priority area for tree planting in light of the fires.
So far this year, about 74,000 fires have been recorded in the rainforest, according to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which is more than an 80% increase from 2018. While fires can happen during the dry season in Brazil, it’s unclear if the recent spate of fires are the result of rising temperatures (this past July was the hottest month ever recorded), deforestation, or set intentionally by Brazilian farmers for financial gain.
NASA released still images of the smoke taken from space that is estimated to be 1.2 million square miles wide.
Smoke from wildfires in the #AmazonRainforest spreads across several Brazilian states in this natural-color image taken by a @NASAEarth instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite. Although it is fire season in Brazil, the number of fires may be record-setting: https://t.co/NVQrffzntr pic.twitter.com/4JTcBz9C8f
— NASA (@NASA) August 21, 2019
Kroll said that there could be a silver lining to the fires: Brazilian rainforests like the Amazon are finally getting the attention they deserve.
“One could say that this is a local issue in Brazil, but the problem is that there are some ecosystems that are so important for the world that all humans have to care about it, and the Amazon is one of them,” he said.
Kroll said that Ecosia’s efforts have planted trees in 17 countries around the world, many of which are developing countries in the tropics. In Brazil alone, they have planted 2.2 million trees, including the Atlantic Forest, which Kroll called the Amazon’s little sibling. While he believes Ecosia is making a difference, Kroll said the deforestation problem is still a crisis.
“If you want to prevent a climate catastrophe, we have to plant 1 trillion trees in the next few years,” he said.
Ecosia’s scale in impressive, though if Google took the same tree-planting pledge, its roughly 3.5 billion searches per day would translate into 46 million trees daily.
The recent campaign is picking up steam though: Kroll said the company has seen a huge number of people installing the app in Brazil over the past day.
Aside from helping our environment, Ecosia does not sell your data to advertisers, does not store your searches, does not use third-party trackers, and securely encrypts all searches. So if you’re looking for a way to help the Amazon rainforest and also have more privacy on the web, it’s a win-win.
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