Humans on Ecology- Deforestation in Brazil Humans Term Paper

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Humans on Ecology-

Deforestation in Brazil

Humans have been supposedly trying to protect the eco-system and environment for a long time. However without realizing, they themselves are causing the most destruction by their ill-planned moves and carelessness. Deforestation is one the most cruel steps taken by man to damage ecology and endanger the lives of fellow beings. Rainforests once covered 15% of the earth. That number has been reduced to 6%. The rainforests contain more than 40% of the world's life forms and they are home to more than 30 million species of plants, animals and insects. It is one of the richest and oldest forms of ecosystems in the world as they have been around for more than 50 million years. However most of the rainforest has been suffering due to deforestation. More than half of the rainforests in the world have disappeared due to deforestation. The percentage of rainforests in the world has reduced drastically. Deforestation has a very bad impact on the environment and the entire ecosystem.

It is a common misconception that deforestation is a recent occurrence, gaining momentum in the tropical regions of the world since about 1950. But its history is long, and stretches far back into the corridors of time when humans first occupied the earth and began to use fire deliberately, probably some half -- a million years ago." (Michael Williams, History Today, Vol. 51, July 2001)

Facts about Brazilian Rainforest

Brazil has one of the world's largest tropical rainforests, the Amazon rainforest. This rainforest comprises of 17% of the world's rain forests. It also has the third largest block of remaining rainforests in the world and is number one in plant biodiversity.

The Amazon rainforest comprises of more than 1.2 billion acres and is spread across most of South America. It is a total of 2.5 million square miles and represents 54% of the total rainforests on earth. It has lost more than twenty percent of its size and has shown an alarming increase of 34% in deforestation in last one decade. Besides deforestation the Brazilian Amazon has to face frequent forest fires which have increased more than 50% since 1996. This has started reducing the size of the Brazilian rainforest. It has been estimated that the Brazilian Amazon basin has been losing forest at a dangerously high rate. Some 20,000 square miles per year of forest are disappearing from this basin, which is equal to 2.7 million acres. Brazil has lost 370,000 km of its forests. The destruction of the rain forest continues to rise and is not showing any signs of stopping. Experts say that the rainforests will eventually disappear within 40 years if deforestation doesn't stop. All that land has been developed to contain huge networks of roads, massive farms and small dams. The land is cleared to provide economic relief to the logging industry, mining cattle ranching and military operations. Deforestation opens the flood gates of problems which continue to pile up every day. This brings up problems such as soil destruction and erosion, malaria and related diseases, air and water pollution, and discharge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and thus the survival of the Indian tribes who live in the Brazilian rain forests is threatened along with the rest of the U.S.

Biodiversity of Animals and Plants

The Brazilian rainforest is one of the greatest resources on earth. It is a sanctuary for a lot of plants and animals. It is home to 70% of the world's plants and animals. With deforestation a lot of animals are displaced and find it hard to survive in new surroundings. The issue of the extinction of plants and animals in the rain forest is very grave. These plants and animals form the ecosystem of the forest and need each other to compliment the growth of the area. The biodiversity of the rainforest is affected. It is a lifecycle which is dependent on a steady environment. Due to a change in their environment a lot of animal species have suffered. Matters aren't helped when the deforested areas are used to create settlements for people. This unsettles the land for the animals and they have to fight for their survival. This disturbs the entire ecosystem drastically. If the rainforests are completely deforested, in the next 25 years, the majority of world's species including various kinds of plants, animals and microorganisms will be wiped out. It is reported that the rainforests lose around 137 plants, animal and insect species almost each day, primarily die to deforestation. This could also have serious consequences for medicine as the rainforest have a lot of species which can be used to develop possible cures for life threatening diseases. The tropical rainforests receive very little sunlight as the rainforests form a canopy. When forests are destroyed, the plants and animals become extinct, as they have grown accustomed to living in the dark and humid environment of the rainforests. They can't live out in the open. It affects the natural process of pollination and plants growth as birds and other animal species can't cross from one canopy to another to disperse the seeds. A lot of plants also die as they don't have the support of the humidity to grow properly. This results in a lot of the species getting extinct.

Deforestation: Problems faced by Indian Tribes

Deforestation causes a lot of social consequences for a lot of Indian tribes living there. Deforestation is done to create new places for people to live in. when people start settling around in the newly created settlements, the lifestyles and customs of the Indians are destroyed. Their rights are ignored and are treated as outcasts. Historians estimate that around 10 million Indians used to live in the Amazon rainforest a few centuries ago. Due to the rapid pace of deforestation the number has dwindled down to less than 250,000. This is due to the fact that a lot of the Indian tribes were killed and many were forced to resettle in other areas. Most of these Indian tribes did not have access to the outside world as they lived in the rainforest. Moving them out of a familiar habitat was suicidal for them as they could not cope with the outside world. Tribes depend on the rainforest as it is their homeland. They have a complex relationship with the forest as they are dependent on it for farming, hunting and gathering. These people have been observing their traditions which let them enjoy their lives in peace and harmony. With the advent of civilization their lives have been destroyed as their lives have been encroached upon. A lot of violent battles have been fought by the encroachers which have resulted in a lot of tribesmen being killed. Due to the encroachment their cultures and traditions got destroyed. These Indian tribesmen know the medicinal value of the rainforest species as they had centuries of knowledge concerning the medicinal values of rainforest animals and plants. With the eradication of a lot of Indian tribes, the knowledge bestowed upon them has been destroyed forever. Their knowledge could have been used to create possible cures for diseases. When deforestation takes place and these people are displaced, the knowledge does not pass on to another generation and the world loses some valuable insight.

Global Warming

The Amazon rainforest has a lot of influence on the local and global climates. They are the key elements of the global weather systems. The more we destroy them the more the Hydrological Cycle is destroyed.

They control the air temperature and maintain the humidity in the atmosphere and convert the atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen and release it into the atmosphere. The rainforest is responsible for producing a quarter of the world's oxygen. Global warming has changed the face of the earth. Global warming occurs due to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Due to deforestation, the amount of carbon dioxide has increased drastically. With a shortage of trees to purify the carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen, global warming will continue to rise. Global warming can be a very dangerous factor. It can result in crop failures, melting of the polar ice caps, flooding the coasts, and displacement of major vegetation regimes. Deforestation is one of the major contributors to global warming. The destruction of the Rainforests changes the reflectivity of the Earth's Surface. This results in abnormal weather phenomena, which in turn transforms current patterns of wind and ocean, and alters distribution of rainfall. The weather patterns of recent years are a warning of impending doom for Earth. If no steps are taken the environment of the earth will be destroyed.

Shortage of water supply and erosion

Rainforests are essential for supplying water for irrigation, sanitation and drinking water. The rainforests in Brazil absorb all the water from rain by holding it within its soil and starts releasing it into streams and rivers slowly and gradually. In fact the rainforests are responsible for…[continue]

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