By: Ojaswee Chaudhary
“In the time it takes to read this article, an area of Brazil's rain forest larger than 200 football fields will have been destroyed.” -National Geographic. This refers to the plague of deforestation occurring throughout forests and endangering, or killing, the lives of thousands of animals. Deforestation, as the name suggests, is the cutting down of trees, usually destroying forests.
Deforestation has many significant effects on the environment. The two most prominent ones are climate change and the loss of wildlife. Climate change is a huge result of deforestation because trees act as absorbers of greenhouse gases. As trees are cut down, more greenhouse gases are permitted to stay in the atmosphere, heating up the Earth and causing many problems like disease, melting ice caps, or droughts.
All types of plants are also being affected. Canopies made of trees provide shade and cool environments for grounds underneath. The removal of canopies causes massive temperature varieties causing disturbances for the wildlife of the forests. These trees also send water vapor back into the air keeping it cool as well but when they are destroyed, land dries up and frequently ends up becoming a desert.
One well known rainforest, the Amazon in Brazil, is a major victim of deforestation. The soybean production remains a specialty of the region as well does the logging and cattle ranching. These three occupations grab for land and thousands of square miles of trees are being destroyed a day.
The Amazon is unquestionably dying. About 20% of it has been destroyed in the past 40 years. This is about 0.001% a day which is quite a bit of the enormous rainforest. The rainforest is losing moisture in the air because trees cannot deposit the needed amount of water vapor; this causes a lack of rainfall, in a rainforest. There have even been two major highways built through the Amazon: the east-west Trans-Amazonian Highway and the BR-163, the “soy highway”. But there are also many, many others unauthorized freeways that serve as transports for loggers.
The cause for all this deforestation in Brazil, is land-thieving, rather grilagem as the Brazilians call it. These people steal land, clear it to confirm they own it, and start their businesses of cutting down more and more trees. With Brazil’s history of wars, chainsaws, and bulldozers ruining large masses of land, the government needs to take control now.
Quick and direct solutions to this problem are mostly far-fetched and have been proven quite impossible with financial realities. For example to simply stop cutting down trees will cause problems for economies around the world, but there are many ways to gradually end this fight. Corporations need to issue claims such as “zero deforestation” which holds suppliers accountable for producing goods such as logs and timber in ways that doesn’t add to the cause of deforestation. In the United States, laws such as the Wilderness Act and the Endangered Species Act help.
What we can do is save paper and recycle. Make sure that many things you buy are made of 100% recycled or post-consumer content. Finally, we can simply use our voice to make a change by educating people around us and participating in local events such as walks, tree planting, or educational workshops.