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Deforestation 5 Essay

1008 words - 5 pages


A recent report from the United Nations indicates that the world's tropical forests are vanishing faster than previously thought. Up to 50 million acres a year are disappearing, almost the area of West Germany, 50 per cent more than expected. The World Resources Institute, which compiled the report, says that the rising rate of deforestation was "a tragedy for the biological richness of the earth and an ominous signal for the climatic conditions of the future." About 100 forest species become extinct every day, with irreparable loss of part of the world's genetic resources. The report says that deforestation accounts for a third of the world's emissions of carbon dioxide, ...view middle of the document...

The head of Brazil's environment institute points out: "It's a problem of awareness. Farmers just don't think of anything but making money, and some regional administrations support them because they think this is development. In one state, farmers are killing the rubber tappers. In another, they think only of profits from cattle ranching. They set fire to nature reserves. They could all think about the environment a little more." The head of the satellite agency which analyzes the problem on a daily basis is more blunt. He says: "We know that burning in the Amazon is gigantic. It's time they showed us a wealthy farmer in handcuffs."

If you want to know what happens when the rain forests are destroyed, the place to go is Vietnam. During the Vietnam war, the American air force sprayed more than 72 million litres of herbicides and defoliants over the country, dropping bombs and napalm over much of the rest. Almost half of Vietnam's landscape is derelict. Since the end of the war things have got worse: the country's 60 million people, like most inhabitants of the tropics, are dependent upon wood for fuel and construction. Demand for fuel and the clearance of land for agriculture has also destroyed thousands of acres. What the Vietnamese have discovered is that when the tropical forests go, they go for ever. The soil is poor. Once the cover is gone, tropical rainstorms wash out the nutrients. In the dry season, the grass catches fire and saplings are killed. Then more top soil is washed away. Tropical trees flower unpredictably, and their seeds are difficult to collect and germinate.

The Americans, given a choice between being green and fighting the Peruvian drug barons, have chosen, as one would expect, to fight. The weapon to hand is Spike, a close relative of Agent Orange, the herbicide used in Vietnam. Spike would have carried...

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