|The Amazon is burning because the world eats so much meat|
(CNN) While the wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest may constitute an "international crisis," they are hardly an accident.
The vast majority of the fires have been set by loggers and ranchers to clear land for cattle. The practice is on the rise, encouraged by Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's populist pro-business president, who is backed by the country's so-called "beef caucus."
While this may be business as usual for Brazil's beef farmers, the rest of the world is looking on in horror.
So, for those wondering how they could help save the rainforest, known as "the planet's lungs" for producing about 20% of the world's oxygen, the answer may be simple. Eat less meat.
Brazil is the world's largest exporter of beef, providing close to 20% of the total global exports, according the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) -- a figure that could rise in the coming years.
Last year the country shipped 1.64 million tonnes of beef, the highest volume in history, according to the Brazilian Beef Exporters Association (Abiec), an association of more than 30 Brazilian meat-packing companies.
The growth of Brazil's beef industry has been driven in part by strong demand from Asia -- mostly China and Hong Kong. These two markets alone accounted for nearly 44% of all beef exports from Brazil in 2018, according to the USDA.
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