TEST TIDBITS—THE VALUE OF THE RAINFOREST
The pictures of the burning rainforest in Brazil have brought the extreme value of all rainforests of the world to our attention. There are good reasons to worry about deforestation. These areas are carbon sinks—absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen to the world. Losing these carbon sinks would compound the effects of climate change. Rainforests play an important role in regulating the water cycle of the earth. Disrupting this cycle would, over time, produce a much dryer world. Rainforests are home to millions of species of plants and animals—some still unknown and unstudied. It is estimated that at least a ¼ of the world’s medicines have their origin from the rainforest. What new medicines are undiscovered? Although clearing the rainforest may provide lumber and cleared land for large plantations, it will cause great unrest for the local population and is very short sighted. Many will flee to cities where they will face unemployment and poverty. Floods, droughts and water quality will suffer and the world will warm faster. Under world pressure, the president of Brazil has begun to bring a halt to the burning of his rainforest area and funds have been pledged to help in these efforts. There are also things we can do locally that will help protect the rainforests. We can avoid purchasing palm oil or products containing palm oil. Huge areas of cleared rainforest land are used to grow palms for their oil. Eat less meat (cattle are grazed on cleared land), purchase sustainable coffee and other products. Look for the Rainforest Alliance notice on the label. We can use less paper products—and use products made from recycled paper when we do. We can reduce our petroleum use (oil companies are buying huge swaths of rainforest areas for drilling) We can donate to organizations that support the protection of the rainforest and we can advocate for better policies that will help developing countries protect their rainforest assets, develop sustainable industries, carve out parks and preserves and increase eco-tourism. We know what needs to be done. However, it will take leaders (in world and US) to recognize that climate change is here, it is a huge problem, and it can and should be addressed as soon as possible. Then, we can assist developing countries in protecting their rainforest resources for themselves, for us and for the health and well being of future generations.
EARTH STEWARD ACTION: This week, please donate to your favorite group that works for protection of the rainforest. Examples of organizations protecting the rainforest are The Rainforest Foundation, The World Rainforest Fund, Arbor Day Foundation’s Rainforest Rescue Program (also offering sustainable coffee) and Episcopal Relief and Development (also offering free trade items).
SOURCES: https://www.theguardian.com/world/galery/2019, https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/7-reasons-to-save-rainforest https://www.wikihow.com/save-the-rainforest, https://www.rainforestfoundation.org