Indigenous peoples guard ‘the lungs of the planet’ for all of us

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The Amazon is vital for the survival of the global biosphere. It produces oxygen and sequesters huge amounts of carbon (2.2 billion tons annually). Moreover, according to the “biotic pump theory, which argues that the world’s forests create and control ocean-to-land winds and bring moisture to all terrestrial life, the Amazon is responsible for cycling about 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. A 2013 Princeton University study concluded that a reduced Amazon could cause up to a 50 percent reduction in rainfall in California’s Sierra Nevada. Without the Amazon, the world as we know it will cease to exist.

Following their January meeting, Indigenous leaders published the Piaracu Manifesto to inform Brazilians, and the international community, of the urgency of the threat facing them, the Amazon and the world.