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What Is the Effect of Deforestation in the Amazon on the Environment and Our Future?

Autor:   •  November 21, 2017  •  4,404 Words (18 Pages)  •  307 Views

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3. Results

- Why is the Amazon rainforest important for our existence?

According to WWF, the Amazon rainforest is important for both our existence and the existence of local tribes that live in the rainforest itself.[5] It is also very important for the biodiversity on our planet: in a paper published by the journal Science in 2013, it is being reported that researchers found out over a period of 10 years that there are almost four hundred billion trees belonging to 16.000 different tree species in the Amazon. Half of these 16.000 tree species are believed to belong to only 227 different creatures. Furthermore, the paper says that „according to a mathematical model used in the study, roughly 6.000 Amazonian tree species have populations of fewer than 1.000 individuals”. This means that these trees should be protected in the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in order to maintain the large biodiversity in the Amazon.[6] Also, The Nature Conservancy, reports that about 10 square kilometers of typical rainforest is home to 1.500 flowering plants, 750 species of trees, 400 species of birds and 150 species of butterflies.[7] In fact, according to the Commonwealth Forestry Association, biodiversity is very important for human existence, because it sustains much of modern agriculture and provides food security and sustainability in food supply for current and future generations.[8]

WWF also claims that trees play a key role in reducing pollutant elements, such as the large emissions of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, caused by both natural and human sources. WWF says that carbon dioxide is „a major driver for global climate change” and that its emission has increased „over the last 150 years, by burning fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas”. It is well known that trees and other plants compensate these large emissions of carbon dioxide by absorbing it and


converting it into oxygen, this process is called photosynthesis. So, as is being said by WWF, cutting down large parts of Amazon rainforest (and other forests) leads to the deterioration of the quality of life, because oxygen is needed in order to live.[9]

The burning of Amazon forest for the establishment of pastures for cattle farming, for example, boosts the emission of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which is already present in large quantities in our atmosphere. In addition to this, pollution and intoxication are being seen in the Amazon soil and rivers, because many developed countries demand minerals and metals that have to be extracted from the soil, often by using toxic chemicals to separate the waste from the minerals, causing the death of many (endangered) animals and many local tribes and communities and causing further degradation of the environment.[10]

WWF also reports that plants in the tropical forests and woodlands, like the Amazon, exchange large amounts of water with the atmosphere and that rivers exchange large amounts of energy to the ocean through evapotranspiration, which not only controls local and regional climates, but also „influences world climate and the circulation of ocean currents”.

Finally WWF says that the Amazon forest and its plants and organisms have been important components for research in the fields of medicine, agriculture and clothing. So if the disappearance of the Amazon and other forests goes any further, future generations might not benefit from the opportunities that the Amazon gives them to develop their knowledge.[11]

Moreover, according to Nature Conservancy, 70% of the plants that are being identified by the U.S. National Cancer Institute as useful for the treatment of cancer can be found only in the Amazon rainforest. This is obviously very important for those who suffer from cancer, but also for their relatives and for future generations, that might suffer from cancer too. However, many of these healing plants are lost each day with the deforestation of the Amazon.[12]


2. What consequences will develop from the deforestation of the ancient forests in the Amazon?

In his book Deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia: History, Rates, and Consequences, professor Philip M. Fearnside explains that, even though the Amazon is being deforested for various reasons, this happens mainly for cattle ranching.[13] Cattle ranching was responsible for approximately 60% of the deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon between 2000 and 2005, as BBC News reports in an article, based on a source from . Fearnside and BBC News also say that the Brazilian economy has seen some progress from the same activities that have formed a threat for the preservation of the Brazilian Amazon. BBC, for example, reports that as the number of cattle in the Amazon rose from 1990 with 26 million to 2002 with 57 million, the amount of beef exports accelerated at the same time, and the Brazilian currency (the Real), made it even more profitable for farmers to deforest and continue cattle ranching.[14] Furthermore, professor Fearnside adds to that „profit from beef cattle is only one of the income sources that make deforestation profitable”.[15] Other causes that make deforestation profitable are also small-scale agriculture (33%), fires, mining and urbanization (3%), logging (3%) and large scale commercial agriculture, like soybeans (1%).[16] However, a major study, as The Guardian mentions in an article, shows that deforestation of the Amazon for these „profitable” causes is not economically or socially beneficial for the local population, which lives in one of the poorest communities of Brazil, in the long term, because „rates of development quickly fall back below national average levels when the loggers move on and local resources near depletion”. Despite that, local communities should still be able to benefit from deforestation, by building farms and logging trees for sale to businesses. So to measure these „potential benefits”, The Guardian reports that a


team of international scientists „analysed the life expectancy, literacy and income of people living in 286 areas around the Brazilian Amazon” and discovered that „the quality of life for local communities improved rapidly” after deforestation firstly took place, because the natural resources of


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