So…. It sounds like Equador is selling off 1/3 of “its” rainforest to Chinese oil companies. Does this piss anyone else off?!
Why the Rainforest is Important
The rainforests are often called the lungs of the planet for their role in ‘breathing in’ carbon dioxide, and ‘breathing out’ oxygen. They stabilizes climate, provide home to an unfathomable array of plants and wildlife, and produce nourishing rainfall all around the planet. On top of that, they are a source of some of the most potent and beneficial medicines we have access to.
When the Rainforest is Gone, It’s Gone
The rainforest is a highly complex self-sustaining eco system that has taken millions of years to develop. Get this: In 5 years alone (2000-2005), more than 50,000 square miles of rainforest (in Brazil) were lost due to deforestation.
“So just let it grow back like other forests!”
… Uhm, that’s the problem… It can’t! The rainforest ecosystem is self-supporting – the evaporating moisture from the forest creates much of the clouds above the forest, which then, in turn, rains back down onto the forest. When large areas of rainforest are cleared, the ground dries up, turning the once-fertile soil into desert. So, when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Threats to the Rainforest
Logging, cattle farming, mining, dams, oil exploration, global warming… Human beings, basically
How Does This Affect You?
Ok, so we know that when the rainforest is gone, so are the indigenous peoples, and countless species of flora and fauna. How does that affect YOU:
- Say goodbye to 20% of the world’s oxygen production
- Say goodbye to 20% of the world’s fresh water storage
- Say goodbye to 80% of the developed world’s diet (fruits like avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangos and tomatoes; vegetables including corn, potatoes, rice, winter squash and yams; spices like black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar cane, tumeric, coffee and vanilla and nuts including Brazil nuts and cashews)
- Indigenous people who have lived harmoniously with the rainforest for thousands of years. Stripping the people of their home, traditions, and cultures forces them to assimilate with modern cultures, which creates social problems that span for decades to come
- Experts agree that by leaving the rainforests intact and harvesting it’s existing plants, the rainforest has more economic value than if they were cut down for its timber, or for cattle grazing land
- The U.S. National Cancer Institute has identified 3,000 plants that are active against cancer cells. 70% of these plants are found in the rainforest
- Say goodbye to 25% of the active ingredients in today’s cancer-fighting drugs – they come from organisms found only in the rainforest
This affects everyone!
What You Can Do About It
Get educated! Check out this informative site: Rainforest Facts
Aside from chaining your body to a big Mahogany, or infiltrating Equadorian/Chinese political decision making, there is an organization called Sky Rainforest Rescue that is doing some amazing things in order to protect the trees of the rainforest. They’re partnered with World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Check them out, and help to protect our endangered rainforest…. For this generation, and the next seven to come.