I wanted to post something a little different to usual today as I thought that I shouldn’t not be covering such an important topic; it is true that not every blog post can be so lighthearted – it’s important to talk about more serious issues sometimes. The Amazon rainforest is burning like never before and it has very quickly become a worldwide environmental emergency. If you didn’t know that already from literally hundreds of news stories over the past week or so, where have you been?! But why does it matter so much to us all and why is it being allowed to be destroyed?
The Amazon provides 20% of the oxygen we breathe and of course with the Earth’s population increasing at an exponential rate, we are relying on this more than ever. Just for a bit of perspective, the World’s population when I was born back in 1997 was 5.9 billion people roughly; today it is estimated to be 7.3 billion – a huge increase right?! To exaggerate the issue, Brazil is considered to be part of the BRIC industrially developing nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) which means it is right in the middle of its demographic transition – think of it being in a position not dissimilar to the UK during the 1800s. Right now, birth rates in Brazil are much higher than more developed nations but as wealth begins to increase death rates are falling so of course the net population increase is high. Brazil is in the middle of a massive industrial revolution and unfortunately the nation’s government are choosing to prioritise mass development at any cost for economic gain rather than looking after the environment and considering climate change concerns. As a result we are then having to deal with unprecedented levels of industrial deforestation to keep up with the supply of materials and resources for the increasing human demand for pretty much anything – from the logging to the cattle farming to the hectares of crops that grow in place of the forest that favour the tropical climate the Amazon offers. It’s a totally unsustainable practice that ultimately has spiralled way out of control.
If we lose so much of our main oxygen source carbon dioxide levels will, of course, be so much higher. Consequently, climate change will occur at an even faster rate; even though ridiculously high levels of atmospheric pollution are recorded every day as a result of our actions as a human race, this would only become worse if we lost the Amazon. Worldwide temperatures will rise at a faster rate and as a consequence the Earth will experience more extreme weather and we will all eventually be forced to alter our entire lifestyles to adapt to changing climates across the world. The changes in environmental conditions, ecosystems and thus habitats for both animal and plant species could change many factors; however, the main issue of course is the result all of this has on the biodiversity of the Amazon.
It is, without a doubt, the most biodiverse place on the planet. This is because the climate is not too warm and there is plenty of prey and there are a range of ecosystems in which wildlife can easily adapt to in order to create their habitats. These factors account for the vast array of species found in the rainforest. The Amazon is home to 427 mammal species, 1,300 bird species, 378 species of reptiles, 3,000 freshwater fish species, and over 400 species of amphibians. When we consider invertebrates though, this number rises to over 100,000 – and that figure only includes Brazil. 2,600 of these species in South America are now endangered on the IUCN Red List and these include the South American Tapir and the Giant Otter. A combination of illegal hunting and habitat destruction as a result of deforestation are the main causes of a decline in species and total animal numbers and in most cases a species is unable to adapt to a newer drastically different future in a totally destroyed habitat and can face eventual extinction.
Of course, I could write about this subject for days but I wanted to keep it a little more concise as after all it is just a blog post. I hope this piece has given you a little more insight into the realities and importance of the Amazon rainforest, and more depth beyond the wildfire pictures that we have seen so many of lately. As always I’d love to hear your responses to this post.
See you soon,