Deforestation of the Amazon

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The Amazon is the earth's greatest biological treasure. There are more than two million types of insects that live there. Mammals, amphibians, and reptile communities each have several hundred species; pink river dolphin, anaconda, and the poison dart frog. Also, over a hundred different plants which are used for medicine live there. The Amazon basin, which covers the entire northern half of South America, is a source of water for the indigenous people. However, the Amazon is being demolished at an alarming rate. In Brazil, the government views the resources in the Amazon as an opportunity for economic wealth. For this purpose, many forms of productions have caused tremendous damage to the rainforest. For example, clearing land to harvest soybean and corn to produce biofuel and ethanol, construct cattle ranches for meat, logging for timber, hydro-electric dams for energy, and, paved roads to access resources. These matters have bestowed on the destruction of the rainforest. They directly affect everything associated with the environment. For instance, it jeopardizes the life of the indigenous people, pollutes the air, destroys the ecosystem, and threatens creatures. For this reason, the Amazon should be preserved because of the overall value it has for the environment.

As the price of gas soars, nations are looking for alternative methods of renewable energy source. For this reason, the Brazilian government is promoting the use of biofuel and ethanol production to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. As a result, Brazil has been busy establishing itself as one of the world's largest producer of ethanol. The ethanol program has created nearly one million jobs in 2007, and has boosted Brazil's economic growth. However, these factors have also contributed to environmental and social problems. In particular, much of Brazil's rainforest has been burned down by farmers and agriculture businesses to harvest corn and sugarcane for ethanol and biofuel. As a result, many creatures are being killed and losing their habitats. The rainforest produces natural CO2 sequesters which help combat global warming. By burning down the rainforest, we are damaging the ozone. In fact, scientists say that, "ethanol will end up contributing to global warming more than if we used oil, where rainforests are destroyed to produce it" (Raintree). In contrast, ethanol may not be an alternative to oil when it's causing more problems to the environment. As a result, Brazil should consider other methods of resources to fuel their vehicles which are eco-friendly.

In recent years, the growth of Brazil's cattle ranch production has given it a larger export production to Europe. This has placed Brazil as one of the top exporter of foods in the world. The financial benefits of cattle ranches generate higher income for businesses and farmers. In fact, cattle ranches are low-risk investments and there has been an increased price and demand for Brazilian beef. On the other hand, these factors bestow other problems. For instance, cattle ranches are the leading causes of deforestation in the Amazon. As the growing demand for beef increases, farmers and investors seek to purchase and produce more cattle ranches to gain more profits. Also, it seems that the government is more concerned with exporting beef rather than providing it to its citizens. For this reason, Brazil's national food self-sufficiency has declined. For instance, in a recent statistic, "Brazil has a tremendous deficit in milk, cereal, grain, wheat, and beans supply" (Agriculture and Foods in Brazil). The government needs to satisfy its own people with food and supply before it decides to ship it out to other nations.

As of lately, Brazil has begun road construction in the Amazon to pave way for logging and mining sites. This will help boost the exporting of logging, minerals, agriculture, oil, and gas production a lot quicker. However, Brazil's current highway leading to the Amazon is their worst national highway. It usually takes weeks for shipments to arrive during rainy seasons. As a result, the government is looking for investors to engage on paving projects to construct more dependable road pathways to the Amazon. For this purpose, according to Alan Glendenning, ''Brazil's government is preparing to let private companies embark on a $417 million paving project to turn BR163 into a modern two-lane toll highway" (Mongabay). Although this may allow truckers to import and export goods quicker, it also brings about other damaging problems. In particular, the pavement will eliminate more rainforest. The native people living in the rainforest will be chafed by dreadful construction noises, and daily traffic. Also, much of the resources they use to construct tools will be drastically reduced. For example, the native people use the Amazon tree's to build canoes, huts, and hunting tools. Creatures also may have a hard time getting around from one place to another because of ongoing traffic.

There are only a slight few places which have enough tree's to supply nations with timber, and mahogany. For example, rainforests throughout South America have significant tropical trees to produce timber and mahogany. Developing nations in South America who are plagued with staggering debts often export their main asset; forests. Even so, logging may have economic wealth, but the damage is far more surpassing. Commercial logging companies destroy a large area of the rainforest when removing only a few logs. The heavy machinery which they use to get through the forest damages the soil which decreases the forest chance for regeneration. Also, they carelessly take away the tree's they've cut down. There have also been many reports on illegal logging. This contributes to how rapid the trees in the Amazon will vanish. The trees are also home to many creatures and provide the rainforest with oxygen. In fact, Kimberely Lisagor mentions that, "In this place where spider monkeys and macaws thrive beneath the supposedly protected 120-foot-tall-trees, government officials look the other way as large sections of the valuable canopy disappear" (178). For this reason, the government should have a close eye on the amount of trees being taken and to implement laws against illegal logging.

In 2001, a drought in the Amazon River caused a power crisis in Brazil. Since then, the government has implanted new projects to build hydro electric dams to ensure sufficient energy throughout Brazil. As a result, there are 240 hydroelectric dams planned in Brazil that are expected to be completed by 2013. The development is considered to boost Brazil's technology to the next level. However, many people oppose of the project because it affects their habitat and the habitat of species. The native people believe the hydro electric dams will decrease fish population in the river. According to Juarez Pezzuti, a biologist who stated that, "The dams reduce the quantity of fish in the rivers because they alter currents and nutrition, in addition to eliminating migratory species" (162). The river is also a drinking source for the native people and the creatures in the region. However, the hydro electric dam rapidly increases the rate of water bone diseases which affects us all. The Amazon River makes its way to the Atlantic Ocean which where our tap water comes from. In contrast, everyone around the world will be affected by the hydro electric dams.

Clearly, the rainforest is being destroyed at a high rate causing damage to the habitats of the native people, plant life and different species which occupy the area. The people of Brazil and of the world need to know how the deforestation of the Amazon effects climate change, the water they drink, conflict with the native people, and, the species of creatures and plants of the region. People here in Canada need to expose these problems in different ways to help people have a better understanding of the situation in Brazil. Karen Kun used methods to "expose people to different ideas, make them think, encourage them to interact, and inspire them to keep learning" (46). If individuals feel strong about the deforestation of the Amazon, they should write letters about the issue to local and state politicians. Perhaps, it will expand to a wider audience and show people exactly how it plays a pivotal role to their lives.

Work Cited

  • Leslie, Taylor. "Rainforest Facts." Raintree. Raintree Nutrition, Inc. 12 Oct. 2008. <>.
  • "Àgriculture and Food in Brazil." Earth Trends. 2003. 15 Oct. 2008. <>.
  • Butler, Rhett. "Deforestation in the Amazon." Mongabay. 1999-2008. 2 Oct. 2008. <>.
  • Lisagor, Kimberly, and Heather Hansen. "Amazon Basin." Disappearing Destinations. New York: Conde Nast Publications, 2008. 173-181.
  • Newman, Arnold. "The Human Resource." Tropical Rainforest. Manchester: Eddison Sadd Eddison, 1990. 157-169.
  • Kun, Karen. "Swimming in the Fast Lane." Notes From Canada's Young Activists: A Generation Stands Up For Change. Ed. Nancy Flight and Ivy Cheung. Toronto: Greystone, 2007. 41-48.