By MIYAH SANBORN
The Amazon rainforest, located in South America, is the largest rainforest in the world. It holds more than ten million species of living organisms in it’s forest, including animals, plants and insects. Not only is it known as the “lungs of the planet” because it produces up to twenty percent of the planet’s oxygen, but it also stores around four hundred billion tons of carbon within the forest.
According to Oxford Environmental Change Institution’s Dr. Erika Berenguer, “the Amazon stores so much carbon that it’s helping us fight climate change. It’s keeping all the carbon on the ground and not in the atmosphere.”
Regardless of the environmental benefits the Amazon rainforest has, we have lost around 17 percent of its forest in the last 50 years and the rates continue to grow. Many scientists believe that the Amazon rainforest will be completely gone in the next hundred years.
There are many factors that contribute to the Amazon’s loss in forest such as agriculture, illegal logging operations and plenty more. The Amazon rainforest has many vital materials that are in high demand for humans like palm and soy oil which can be used to make materials such as lipstick and animal feed.
There have also been numerous fires spreading across the Amazon due to the climate changing and logging operations. Once the fires spread, they ruin the structure of the forest, threaten biodiversity in the Amazon and make it more available to invading species.
Although there are plenty of reasons deforestation is occurring, logging operations are one of the most lethal to the Amazon. Logging is done to build new roads, clear land for new settlements and developments as well as to collect wood for new building operations.
Brazil’s latest president, Jair Bolsonaro, is encouraging development in the Amazon. According to David Shunkman, BBC’s science editor, “Jair Bolsonaro was elected on a promise of development. Keen to promote mining as well as agriculture, he described the Amazon as ‘a periodic table’ of valuable minerals, and he resents what he sees as outside interference.” With all of this said, the Amazon rainforest has and will continue to be destroyed until deforestation stops. Cutting down the Amazon’s trees emits all of the carbon dioxide stored which further leads to climate change since it is a major greenhouse gas.
Trees are also a very important part of the water cycle, and when they are being cut down, it can disrupt the circulation of water, which changes the climate once again. Without enough trees to hold down the fertile soil, erosion occurs, which damages plants and makes them inedible for animals to eat.
The change in environment has a terrible effect on wildlife in the Amazon. There are plenty of species who are in grave danger because their habitats are being taken away from them, and along with that, many food sources are not available to the animals any longer, which can often lead to starvation.
Even though many people believe that cutting down the Amazon rainforest is beneficial, it is incredibly dangerous and can alter the world we live in drastically.
Some students Redlands East Valley High School have heard about the issue of deforestation and have formed opinions on the subject.
Freshmen at REV, Ava Larson shares her opinion on the Amazon Rainforest deforestation, “It’s so sad how the Amazon is being cut down and all the animals are losing their homes.”
Pictured is Ava Larson, a freshman at REV this year. (Photo credit to Ava Larson/Ethic Photos)