NBC News

Protesters Gather in Beverly Hills Over Amazon Rain Forest Fires

A group of impassioned protesters gathered outside the Brazilian consulate in Beverly Hills Friday to express outrage and despair over the raging fires in the Amazon rain forest.

More than 74,000 fires have burned in Brazil alone this year, almost double the total for 2018, according to NBC News.

Donning face masks and equipped with signs that read "don't burn our children's future" and "if the Amazon goes, so do we," protesters gathered at the consulate located at 8484 Wilshire Blvd. Friday afternoon.

"The indigenous peoples, their land, their homes, their way of life are being destroyed by this," the group Azul said in a news release ahead of the event.

Global concern over the fires was growing as many contend the Brazilian government is not doing enough to curb deforestation, saying the fires are threatening the "the lungs of the planet" since the forests provide a major source of oxygen to the world. 

French President Emmanuel Macron also said the wildfires are an international crisis.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and the government said they were being targeted in a smear campaign. Bolsonaro took office at the beginning of the year, and had been rolling back environmental protections. This cleared the way for illegal fires that have burned forests in favor of clearing land for agriculture, critics say

Scientists said unusual drought would not be to blame for the fires as this year has not been a particularly dry one, NBC News reported.

Celebrities have also spoken out about the fires and deforestation using the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia on social media. 

Leonardo DiCaprio posted to Instagram, offering ways that the average person can help:

"1. Keep informed about the situation. Sites like Global Forest Watch Fires provide valuable information about the fires going on right now.⁠

2. Share your passion for the rainforest with your friends. Educate others about this issue and why it is so important.⁠

3. Try changing your daily habits to be more environmentally friendly. Purchasing environmentally-friendly products and reducing or reusing paper is a great way to start!.

4. If you can, make your voice for the environment heard in your local and national elections.⁠

5. Support organizations like Rainforest Trust. While we can't help stop these particular fires, our work to prevent deforestation helps stop fires like this from happening again."

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