What If We Lost The Amazon Rainforest?

What If We Lost The Amazon Rainforest?

How long would it take for the world’s largest rainforest to burn down? If we don’t do anything to stop it, we’ll soon find out. The Amazon rainforest creates 20% of the Earth’s oxygen. It’s home to 30% of the planet’s species, and it holds the secrets to treating some of our most deadly diseases. If we destroy the Amazon rainforest, the consequences would be disastrous, and they’d be felt all over the world. Recently, massive forest fires have become the biggest threat to the Amazon’s survival. But unfortunately, the fires are just a part of a much bigger problem. For example, farming, mining, and logging are already responsible for three football fields worth of deforestation per minute. If we don’t do anything to stop this, the Amazon rainforest
will disappear eventually. And we’d lose any chance we have in the battle against climate change. The Amazon rainforest is one of the
most incredible places on Earth. It covers 40 percent of South America, drives the South American economy, and stores 86 billion tons of carbon that would otherwise be
polluting our atmosphere. With an area that’s this important, you’d think we would do
everything in our power to protect it. But we don’t. Since 1978, an estimated 750,000 square
kilometers (289,000 square miles) of rainforest have been
destroyed, all thanks to humans. If this trend continues, the Amazon rainforest could
disappear within 100 years. How bad would that be for our planet? Well, let’s take a look. For starters, we’d be losing a huge amount of our planet’s biodiversity. The Amazon rainforest has
more plant and animal species than any other terrestrial ecosystem on Earth. If we destroy the Amazon, we’ll be
destroying all that diversity too, and wiping out an entire
ecosystem at the same time. That would have huge effects on the Earth. We’d all quickly realize how much we’d been relying on the
Amazon’s resources for food and medicine. Most people are surprised when they find
out that hundreds of prescription drugs have come from things
in the Amazon rainforest. We’re not just talking about
simple herbal remedies either. We’re talking about
full-fledged cancer-fighting drugs that are so important ]that they’ve been classified
as essential medicines by the World Health Organization. And we haven’t even
scratched the surface yet! Scientists estimate that they’ve
studied less than five percent of the plants in the rainforest
for potential medicinal benefits. So who knows what other
essential treatments we could lose without the rainforest? But the most critical problem we’d face if
the Amazon completely disappeared would be a faster pace of climate change. If the Amazon rainforest
continues to wither and die, it will stop being a source of oxygen. Instead, it will begin to give off carbon, which we all know is
fueling climate change. Right now the Amazon has a
natural stockpile of carbon reserves If we woke up tomorrow and
found the Amazon destroyed, especially by fire, all that carbon would be
floating in the atmosphere. Some experts believe that if this happens, we would lose the battle
against climate change. But it’s not all doom and gloom; there
is still hope for the Amazon rainforest. Through studies conducted
over the past several decades, researchers have found that tropical forests may be able to
survive human-caused destruction. Even without human help, a rainforest can start growing again if it has enough seedlings. However, this can only be successful
if the rainforest isn’t always under attack. So what can you do to help? Well for starters, don’t eat as much beef. Processed beef products, such as
fast-food hamburgers, are full of illegally-sourced
beef from the rainforest. Reduce the amount of paper you use, and choose renewable energy
products whenever you can. Renewable energy use reduces
the carbon caused by fossil fuels, many of which come
from the Amazon rainforest. Maybe, if we all work together, we can restore this beautiful
rainforest to its former glory, but that’s a topic for another WHAT IF.


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