The tragic wildfires in the Amazon rainforest are some of the worst in history, and the public is concerned. Luckily, it sounds like world leaders are hearing the public's call for aid and are working on a package that could assist the Amazon. However, one familiar face was missing from this important get together, because Donald Trump skipped a G7 meeting that was all about the Amazon rainforest and environmentalism.
On Monday, Aug. 26, Group of Seven (G7) leaders met in Biarritz, France and agreed on a $20 million aid package in order to confront the forest fires taking over the Amazon. According to The New York Times, French President Emmanuel Macron and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera also agreed to a long-term program that would focus on forest protection and reforesting lands that have already been cleared. From the looks of it, a lot was done during this meeting. However, U.S. President Donald Trump didn't attend the meeting, and instead sent a Trump administration senior staffer instead, per The Times.
On Aug. 26, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters that Trump had scheduled meetings that conflicted with the G7 meeting. "The President had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India, so a senior member of the Administration attended in his stead," Grisham said.
So far, there's been no word as to exactly what the aid package will go toward. According to Piñera, the countries impacted will need specialized aircrafts and fire brigades in order to take on the wildfires.
This G7 meeting marks an important step to help the Amazon, which is currently suffering from extreme, out of control fires which threaten to destroy the rainforest which is nicknamed the "lungs of the planet." The ecosystem is one of the largest sources of biodiversity and oxygen in the world, and helps decrease the effects of climate change by storing carbon. Per CNN, as of Aug. 24 there were as many as 80,626 fires burning throughout the portion of the Amazon within Brazilian borders.
As the president of the United States, it's understandable that Trump had a busy schedule. However, Trump has aired his skepticism about climate change in the past, denying scientific evidence that it's caused by human activities. (At least 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is primarily man-made, per NASA.) In October 2018, Trump appeared on 60 Minutes and told host Lesley Stahl that he doesn't stand by previous comments he's made that climate change is a "hoax." However, he still isn't fully convinced that global climate change is man-made. He said,
I think something's happening. Something's changing and it'll change back again. I don't think it's a hoax, I think there's probably a difference. But I don't know that it's man-made.
Even though Trump missed this G7 meeting, rumor has it he has big plans for the 2020 meeting. The Times reported that Trump is thinking about holding the next G7 meeting at his National Doral luxury golf resort in Doral, Florida. However, critics have questioned the ethics of such a move, as the Trump-owned resort would see a financial profit off of hosting such a high-profile event. Nothing has been confirmed as of yet, but perhaps the G7 leaders will be swapping their work clothes for swimming suits. Despite the criticism, Trump defended his decision to host the G7 summit at one of his properties to reporters on Monday, Aug. 26. He said,
It's not about me, it's about getting the right location. The only thing I care about is this country. My people wanted it. I'm not going to make any money.
Trump might have skipped out on this particular G7 meeting, but hopefully the other world leaders will fill him in. One thing is for sure, this aid package could help the Amazon in numerous ways, which could impact all of us. In the meantime, here's how we can help the Amazon ourselves.