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AMAZONIA...Say Goodbye

By Joe Strykowski

In the next 60 seconds, a piece of the Amazon rainforest the size of 10 city blocks will disappear forever. An area the size of New York state is bulldozed into extinction every year. At this rate, all the Amazonian rainforests will v anish by the end of the century.

Population Growth
Brazil's population is expected to increase 2.5 fold by 2100, which will only increase pressure to clear the rainforest.

Human numbers are eroding the natural systems that support life in the Amazon.

There are more people in Brazil today than at any other time. The rainforest is being slashed and burned to make room for cattle and farms, always leading to the least sustainable agricultural practices.

In Brazil, the few have everything and the many almost nothing. Half of Brazil's arable land is owned by less than one percent of its land holders. Seventy percent of rural households do not have enough land to support themselves on.

More than one-fifth of Amazonian rainforest has already been destroyed.

Cattle Ranching
Much of the Amazon rainforest is burned to create pasture for fast food beef. For every quarter-pound hamburger made from rainforest beef, 1,000 pounds of living matter are destroyed.

The United States with its insatiable appetite for cheap beef, encourages speculators who buy land cheap in the rainforest, burn it to the ground, then raise cattle on it for the enormous U.S. fast food market.

One-third of the world's remaining tropical rainforests are in the Amazon basin. Millions of acres are logged each year, clear-cut faster than they can grow back.

The Amazon's Biological Dance (Biological Extinction)
Rainforests are treasure troves of foods and medicines. But before they can be studied by science, they're slashed and burned into extinction. History teaches us species thought useless have proven essential to the ecological systems that supports man.

The rainforest is the largest repository of genetic traits in the world.

Tropical rainforests keep safe an estimated 10 million species. Science believes there may be as many as 80 million more in the rainforests. At least one-quarter of these are endemic, meaning they occur naturally nowhere else on earth. Yet, one acre of ra inforest is destroyed every second.

The destruction of each small piece brings about the extinction of uncounted genetic records, memory banks evolved over billions of years.

It is not what we know about the rainforest that makes it so valuable, but what we don't know.

One in ten of all non-prescription medicines are derived from rainforest plants. Still, the world is woefully ignorant of the medicinal potential of most tropical plants. Researchers have identified 3,000 plants with cancer-fighting properties: 70 percent of them from plants endemic to the rainforest. The Amazon is home to more plant species than any other place on earth, and we know nothing about the chemical composition of 99 percent of Amazonian flora.

Of all rainforest life, the species most endangered is man himself. Of the 230 Amazon Indian tribes known to exist in 1900, more than 87 have become extinct in Brazil alone.

Rainforests and Coral Reefs

Rainforests reduce soil erosion and provide natural buffers against flooding, wind damage and sedimentation. Topsoil can take 1,000 years to develop, yet can be destroyed by overcutting in fewer than 10 years. Left unprotected by trees, heavy rainfalls wa sh topsoil into the rivers, causing widespread siltation. The runoff from denuded land chokes coral reefs already reeling under the assault of human activity, and threatens vital fish population.

The Amazon basin houses the world's largest tropical rain forest, an ecosystem so enormous it is rightly considered a global resource. On a global scale, then, coral reefs and tropical rainforests measure ecology's broadest concept---everything in nature shares the magnificent interconnectedness.