Thursday, August 7, 2008
SAVING OUR RAINFORESTS
Tropical rainforests are being destroyed at an alarming rate to make way for cattle grazing and the growing of crops to feed the livestock industry. A survey showed that, an area the size of 7 football fields is being levelled every minute to sustain
our insatiable appetite for meat!!
Besides logging and for planting of commercial crops, the ever-increasing demand for land to accommodate commercial animal farming is one of the major factor for the continuous deforestation of our rainforests and contributes the most damaging effects to the environment in terms of GREENHOUSE GASES.
TROPICAL RAINFORESTS are normally found near the Equator and are common in ASIA, AFRICA, SOUTH AMERICA, CENTRAL AMERICA and the PACIFIC ISLANDS. Sometimes called
Equatorial rainforests, they are homes to almost half of all living animal and plant species on earth. They are also significant for their natural medicinal value as
many of our modern medicines are derived from its plant species. With its high biological biodiversity, rainforests support a wide spectrum of fauna and flora - many are now extinct or endangered due to deforestation.
As they are Earth's oldest ecosystems, rainforests play an important role in the
preservation of the environment. Notably, they - :
(a) produce oxygen and store carbon dioxide (acting as carbon sinks)
(b) regulate temperatures and weather patterns
(c) absorb rainwater and prevent erosion
(d) are homes to indigenous people
(e) one-fifth of the world's fresh water is found in the Amazon basin
(f) more than 2000 of its plants have been identified as having anti-cancer
(g) a typical 4-sq mile area contains as many as 1,500 flowering plants, 750 species
trees, 400 species of birds and 150 species of butterflies
Clearing and burning of rainforests release huge amounts of carbon dioxide and accounts for 20-25% of the global CO2 emission. Deforestation causes untold loss of biological diversity - 100 species of plants and animals become extinct everyday.
Scientific findings state that there were 6 million square miles of tropical rainforests worldwide but, as a result of deforestation, only about 2.6 million sq miles remain. At the rate we are going, it could be less than this figure by now.
Many of us are unable to come to terms with the ugly truth that we are losing our rainforests due to our meat diet. Or we are just ignorant of the consequences of the harm raising of livestock for food is causing. Not only will it destroy our rainforests but more potent is its effect on global warming.
Is there a solution to saving our tropical rainforests and in doing so also curb global warming? YES - by reducing our meat intake OR adopting a plant-based diet.
It is the quickest and most effective way any individual can help to address current climatic issues.
We need to make changes in our lives when the need arises for us to make choices that will benefit ourselves and the world at large. Old habits are hard to put down but we need to give them up if we want to live a healthier life in a better world.
Nothing comes without a price and it's up to us to pay now or later.
"If we lose our forests, we lose the fight against climate change."
(GLOBAL CANOPY PROGRAMME - an alliance of leading rainforests scientists)
To read more on TROPICAL RAINFORESTS:
For CAUSES OF DEFORESTATION: