What can be done to save the Amazon rainforest in Brazil?
2011 Update: “The main sources of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest are human settlement and development of the land. In the nine years from 1991 to 2000, the total area of Amazon rainforest cleared rose from 415,000 to 587,000 km²; comparable to the total land area of Spain, Madagascar or Manitoba. Most of this lost forest has been replaced with pasture for cattle. In February 2008, the Brazilian government announced that the rate at which the Amazon rainforest was being destroyed had been accelerating noticeably during the time of the year that it normally slows: In just the last five months of 2007, more than 3,200 sq. kilometers, an area equivalent to the state of Rhode Island, was deforested. The Amazon rainforest continues to shrink; recently, the rate of deforestation has been slowing, with the 2011 figures showing the slowest rate of deforestation since records have been kept.” – Wikipedia
2012 Update: “The devastation to the Amazon jungle increased by almost one-third in 2012, according to studies made by the Brazilian government. This development represents a dramatic reversal of what was formerly seen as solid progress made over the prior decade in the fight against deforestation of the largest tropical rainforest in the world. Data from the last 12 months collected by satellite showed that the damage in the Amazonian region expanded by 28 percent in comparison to the previous year. The damaged area added up to 5,843 square kilometers (2,255 square miles), roughly the size of the small U.S. state of Delaware.”
I think we all realize the importance of the rainforest, it is the lungs of our planet and the health of it greatly affects the quality of our air and water. We have all been hearing about it’s rapid destruction in the last few decades. There is no doubt that this situation is becoming more critical and we need to do something about it NOW! Can we acknowledge that what is being done today is not enough, simply because of the fact that destruction continues at an alarming pace? When I told a friend about this problem, she said that in California they were successful with a drive to protect the forests there from further logging. Yes, they may have been successful to draft a legislation to protect the forest in a local region, but if they haven’t done anything to change their habits on a ‘personal level’ by reducing their overall consumption of wood products, meat and Amazon agricultural products, then what happens is that the problem resurfaces in another region.
This is evidenced by the demand and pressure to harvest wood in the Amazon as seen by continued deforestation. The demand for wood products and agricultural items is coming from consumers in industrial nations, and therein lays the solution. A real protection of the Amazon rainforest won’t happen until people demand less of the products coming from there. The simple truth is: as long as people are consuming and thereby producing the demand, then this pressure EXISTS and the products WILL BE supplied.
To heal anything or affect a real change, one must determine and deal with the root cause. This is true, whether it’s ones personal health or the health of a system. The established paradigm of healing these days is to treat or alleviate the symptoms, without dealing with the underlying cause, meanwhile the system gets sicker as the real cause is not dealt with. It is just like taking an aspirin for a headache, you might get temporary relief, but if what has caused the headache is not changed, then the headache will come back usually stronger, after the pill has worn off. Some people might get a temporary good feeling when they buy an acre of rainforest or donate some money, because they feel they have done something to make a difference.
The parallel between these two examples is that taking the pill is the easy way out, not requiring that YOU MAKE A CHANGE in your causing behavior! The other parallel is that the health of the system continues to decline, because the cause is not being dealt with. How can we be certain that this bought acre of land is actually being protected or that the money donated actually goes into protection and not just into the pocket of the administrators? Do you want to know that your donation might have had no effect, because as long as there is money to be made then greed will be the deciding factor? I sense most would prefer to take off their blinders and look at the situation to know the truth.
There is only one way to stop the destruction of the rainforest and it is in OUR HANDS. Everybody can make a real CUMULATIVE difference and all you have to do is reduce or eliminate your consumption of the products that are putting pressure on these regions. Do you homework and find out what exactly is being done with this land, what is being grown including beef cattle and what pulp, paper and wood products are being made with the trees. Then look at what you are consuming that may affect that area and see with clear eyes how you are contributing to the destruction. Only after you have directly evaluated your consumption and the impact you are having with it, will you be able to make changes in your consumption patterns that ‘collectively’ will make a real difference. For instance you can start even with a roll of toilet paper, see the article on toilet paper.
A step we can all take right now is to pass along these kinds of information to our friends and family and also to inform ourselves about the facts. One could append to this article, information you found out coming from your own research, including products that come from the rainforest, and which ones you eliminated or found alternatives for. This kind of information puts power into the hands of people to affect a real change.
Today deforestation in the Amazon is the result of several activities, the foremost of which include:
1. Clearing for cattle pasture
2. Colonization and subsequent subsistence agriculture
3. Infrastructure improvements
4. Commercial agriculture
Ask yourself how your consuming habits are contributing to the destruction of the planet. Then talk to your friends about it and get them involved!
~ Betsy ~