During a strong performance for USA Basketball early this morning, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma was trying to draw attention to a far bigger issue going on away from the basketball court: The wildfires currently raging in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.
Kuzma wrote “Amazon ❤️” on his shoes for the game, and later took to Twitter to confirm that the fires in the rainforest were what he was trying to raise awareness of:
Spread awareness! The Amazon is a huge part of our oxygen ‼️ https://t.co/SleQusxG1p— kuz (@kylekuzma) August 22, 2019
⁉️ this is not just a typical farmer crop fire!!!! https://t.co/HwT1elBMa6— kuz (@kylekuzma) August 22, 2019
Kuzma is right on both fronts. According to CNN, “the fires are burning at the highest rate since the country’s space research center, the National Institute for Space Research (known by the abbreviation INPE), began tracking them in 2013.”
If that doesn’t sound bad enough, it gets worse:
There have been 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, with more than half in the Amazon region, INPE said. That’s more than an 80% increase compared with the same period last year.
The Amazon is often referred to as the planet’s lungs, producing 20% of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.
It is considered vital in slowing global warming, and it is home to uncountable species of fauna and flora. Roughly half the size of the United States, it is the largest rainforest on the planet.
To put that in context, CNN reports that “according to INPE, more than 1½ soccer fields of Amazon rainforest are being destroyed every minute of every day.”
From the other side of Earth, here’s the latest on the Amazonia fires— WMO | OMM (@WMO) August 20, 2019
Produced by @CopernicusEU’s atmosphere monitoring service, it shows the smoke reaching the Atlantic coast and São Paulo
DATA HERE▶️https://t.co/Q6qzFdPfIT pic.twitter.com/aJKU2YwRpJ
Kuzma has always been socially conscious, frequently using his Instagram and Twitter accounts — platforms that boast over 4 million followers combined — to raise awareness of issues he finds important, most frequently calling attention to the lack of progress made on decontaminating the water in his hometown of Flint, Michigan.
In that context, his small show of advocacy to bring a large number of eyeballs to the situation in the Amazon shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s no less admirable. Kuzma has shown time and time again that he’s not going to stick to sports, and in a world that needs more engaged and informed citizens than ever, Kuzma using his huge platform to try and make a positive difference on issues facing our planet is undoubtedly a good thing.