By Maria Singh
The samba music blasting from the locals in the streets of Brazil and the delicious homemade mango smoothie that I just devoured could not compare to the seemingly bottomless chasm I was staring into: the Amazon rainforest.
A part of me revered the rainforest as its own unique entity. It was beautiful, breathtaking and loving. Yet, a part of me felt a deep sorrow.
I remember walking back to my hotel in Manaus, Brazil as I questioned why no one could see why the world dealt a slew of environmental problems.
While everyone back in California was engrossed in issues such as the statewide drought and global warming, I could not help but think that the solution to all these issues was right in front of me.
We must stop deforestation and save the Amazonia.
Deforestation is the destruction of Earth’s forests on a massive scale through methods such as logging, clear-cutting and cattle ranching.
According to the World Wildlife Fund’s website, about 17 percent of the Amazon is already gone due to deforestation in the last 50 years. While many people see deforestation as a technique to produce more jobs and commodities through the means of agriculture, it actually produces more harm to the environment, animals and people.
Millions of animals and plant species are stripped of their homes due to deforestation. The famous pink dolphins, colorful macaws and hanging twisted vines will all be mere memories for many people if deforestation continues.
But the destruction does not stop there.
Greenpeace, a non-governmental environmental organization, describes the Amazon rainforest as the “lungs of our planet.” The Amazon basin provides “the essential environmental world service of continuously recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen.” The Amazon contributes more than 20 percent of the oxygen produced in the world.
A great way to look at the Amazonia is to imagine it as a canopy. This “canopy” acts as a barrier that soaks up toxic gases in the air and emits better gases for the environment.
The Amazon rainforest vacuums and prevents harmful gasses from entering the atmosphere. However, because of deforestation, the protection that the plants and trees provide is futile.
In fact, Greenpeace says that deforestation accounts for about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Destroying the Amazon rainforest means “more carbon emissions and a warmer world.”
The costs associated with deforestation in the Amazonia can additionally affect people living in countries as far as the United States.
Researchers at Princeton University conducted research that studied how deforestation or other means of destruction to the Amazon rainforest could potentially affect areas outside of the forest’s proximity.
“Princeton University-led researchers report that the total deforestation of the Amazon may significantly reduce rain and snowfall in the western United States, resulting in water and food shortages and a greater risk of forest fires,” concluded the researchers. “[They are] the first to find that the atmosphere’s normal weather-moving mechanics would create a ripple effect that would move that dry air directly over the western United States from December to February.”
In reality, it should not come as a surprise that California has 80-degree weather in February.
There are many ways to stop the destruction that deforestation causes. Since deforestation is carried out by corporations and markets, the best way to promote the protection of the Amazon rainforest is to be cautious of the products you are buying as well as donate to conservation efforts and put pressure on government policies.
These simple actions aim at the governments, corporations and markets that enforce and tolerate deforestation. When consumers do not comply to business strategies, these institutions have no choice but to listen.
When I go back to Brazil one day, I hope that I will find myself staring back up at the plants and trees that I fell in love with.
As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”
Monica Lopez / The Poly Post
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