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The disappearing rain forrest

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Introduction

THE DISAPPEARING RAINFORESTS Allison Aitken GWIOA Mr. Drummond December 3, 2002 Conserving the rainforest is a global issue of great importance. Tropical rainforests provide a habitat for animals, a unique ecosystem for vegetation, and an abundance of resources for humans, yet they are being destroyed at an astonishing rate. Experts estimate that if these endangered territories continue to be consumed in this manner, no more will be standing in forty years (Rainforest). Examining the social, environmental, and economic costs of the continued destruction of the Earth's tropical rainforests will prove that deforestation for short-term profit is ultimately not viable. The social and moral implications of diminishing rainforest biodiversity are great. From a human welfare perspective, the livelihoods of tens of millions of indigenous peoples depend on the forests, but thousands are being pushed out of their homes because they lack the shelter and support that the forest once gave them (Salim 3). These groups have "developed knowledge and cultures in accordance with their environment through thousands of years, and even physically they are adapted to the life in the forest" (Nyborg). For many of the people living in these areas, the forest is the only resource they have providing them with food, shelter and cultural ties. ...read more.

Middle

Forests are carbon sinks, and when trees are cut down more of this carbon is free to enter the atmosphere (Chasmer 287). When there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect is stronger, and the overall global temperature increases. This eventually causes ice caps to melt and water to expand which leads to disastrous flooding across the globe (Kristula). These floods destroy topsoil, and kill hundreds of people every year. The deforestation of rainforests will make our earth more susceptible to forest fires, water shortages, fragmentation, increased hunting, land conversion, and unregulated access to the forests. Preserving forests will significantly aid in the restabilization of climate, precipitation, water supplies and quality of streams, lakes, and coastal water. It is up to the people of today to save what is left and to educate future generations. For many developing countries, the tropical rainforest is the means of improving their economies. The pharmaceuticals industry alone is "worth tens of billions of dollars annually" (Chasmer 288), and 80% of the developed world's diet is provided by the rainforest (Rainforest). The leading causes of deforestation in the developing regions are the result of converting forested land to other uses. Despite the many studies confirming that rainforests are worth more intact than logged or burned for cash crops or cattle pastures (Chasmer 339), developing countries ...read more.

Conclusion

Producing tropical hardwoods in plantations would enable loggers to refrain from taking from the natural primary forests. Bamboo, for example is the fastest-growing plant in the world. Because of its incredible sprouting speed and tolerance of poor soils, bamboo has the potential of to fill the world's future wood pulp needs (Newman 226). As discussed above, rainforests are highly valued for their aesthetic qualities. Ecotourism is an industry that reaps in approximately $300 billion USD a year. According to Guatemala's Minister of Culture, tourism protects the rainforest by keeping away "poachers, illegal wood harvesters and burners, and drug runners with secret air strips in the north jungle" (Kristula). With diminishing forest area, the tourism industry is also suffering. Because of environmental, social, and economic repercussions, it is clear that destroying the rainforest at the present rate is not effective. Changing attitudes will not be an easy task. If the world's population continues to grow, the demand for forest products such as shelter, food, water, energy, wood, and paper will also increase. Public interest must be considered over private interests and community should be involved in all decision-making. The value of today's rainforests can only be preserved for future generations through education. Society must significantly decrease consumption and wasteful production patterns to support renewable rainforest products, and merge conservation and business in a positive way. Motivation must come from "something more powerful than money, but more rare: Love" (John). ...read more.

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