What is Happening with the Rainforests?

What is Happening with the Rainforests?

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It seems that there are so many pressing environmental issues close to home that when someone mentions the rainforest it is hard to picture. Most Americans visualize a beautiful, humid jungle that some people are cutting down here and there. What many do not realize is the environmental and health benefits the rainforest holds. As man continues to chase his tail, polluting and then cleaning up his mess, it is the loss of our many rainforests that could be the demise of mankind completely.

Why we need Rainforests

Covering approximately 1.4 billion acres of land (about 40% of the continent), the Amazon (Amozonian) is the largest rainforest amongst those found throughout the world (which in total cover about 6% of our planet). They hold a vast amount of insects, wildlife and botanical genomes with many scientists reporting that there are more to be discovered. In total these ecological wonders:

  • Produce about 20% of the world’s oxygen (80% is produced by ocean microorganisms).
  • Regulate worldwide climate patterns.
  • Maintain global rainfall.
  • Produce a vast amount of food products including bananas, coffee, papaya, peanuts, cacao, cashews, pineapples and more.
  • Hold medicinal value. The National Cancer Institute (U.S.A.) has identified 3000 plants that are active against cancer cells, 70% of these are found in the rainforest, 25% are used in prescription drugs.

Deforestation

It is a sad result of an ever expanding world. Powerful corporations have been supporting rainforest deforestation for raising cattle, mining, logging, paper production and more. Ironically, experts agree that by cultivating the rainforest rather than cutting it down, more economic value is possible. Unfortunately, when the money is quickly attained it is hard to stop the machine. Statistics of how much rainforest we lose per second are staggering. Due to the huge amounts of carbon stored in the densely populated rainforest, global warming is generated when it is burned or left to rot. In addition, the many species destroyed or driven out is a travesty. Essentially, man is ‘shooting himself in the foot’ by using immediate gain to trump the future of our planet.

Good News Bad News

A recent article in the NY Times reports of a growing population (upwards of 25 million so far) in ‘rainforest cities’. Some attribute this rise to the mission of, “Occupy it to avoid surrendering it.” Some consider this progress, as natives literally hold onto their land by banning together within it. Others consider this the action of employed workers and mercenary security teams to deforest from the inside out. It is somewhat of an ecological civil war.

Progress is being made in small pockets throughout rainforest activism. However, until it becomes completely controlled by a world security symposium, local governments will continue to succumb to the corruption of the long arm of generous corporations. Standing in front of logging machines is brave and may get a news sound bite but convincing every country of this enormous biodiversity loss which will potentially destroy our planet, is paramount. Let us hope we do not have to wait for more natural disasters to convince them too late.

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