Cyberactivism inadequate alone

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

During the last few weeks of Aug., you may have seen your Instagram story feed transform before your eyes. Your friends’ Instagram stories, normally containing memes and pictures of people’s dinners, suddenly featured memes, pictures of people’s dinners, and panic over the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon rainforest is burning. If you checked the news, browsed social media, or talked to anyone during the month of August, chances are you’re painfully aware of this fact.

Cyberactivism has been a good start to help increase awareness of this environmental catastrophe. In order for it to be effective, however, it must be followed by concrete action. Overall, cyberactivism has failed to inspire mass action, as it has skimmed over the likely cause of the fires: animal agriculture.

NASA’s Earth Observatory has analyzed the timing, location, and intensity of the fires, and found that these patterns indicate deliberate land clearing. In other words, humans have been intentionally starting fires to clear up space for industry. Though Amazonian deforestation is a multifaceted issue, about 80 percent of current deforestation in Amazon countries is carried out to increase beef production, according to Yale University's Global Forest Atlas.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon, and as such, is the probable cause of many of the 2019 fires. This presents an inconvenient truth for many Americans. Some of America’s largest corporations, such as Costco, McDonald’s, and Walmart, sell Amazonian beef to the public. Therefore, veganism, or reduced beef consumption at the very least, is a fitting solution to this environmental crisis. Less demand for beef (and its byproducts) would decrease the demand for Amazonian land, and reduce the need for deforestation.

Much anti-vegan rhetoric focuses on the impact of soy production on the Amazon. Soybean production is a major threat to the Amazon rainforest but is secondary to livestock production. Further, 80 percent of soybeans produced worldwide is consumed by livestock. The environmental burden proposed by soybeans should not be discounted, but rather it should be looked at as a result of livestock production.

As the fires in the Amazon rage on, cyberactivism is beginning to die down. In order to fight deforestation and prevent further fires, the demand for Amazonian land must be reduced. We must do so by reducing the demand for Amazonian-raised beef and other cattle products.