The Amazon Rainforest, the largest rainforest in the world, is shrinking at a shockingly fast rate. If it were to disappear completely, we would be in big trouble.
The Amazon covers parts of Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Surinam, Venezuela and Brazil. Before the 1970s, just Brazil had 1.54 million square miles and as of 2018, there is only 1.274 million square feet and rapidly declining. The Amazon stores 100 billion metric tons of barn and according to the WWF, it filters carbon dioxide out of the air we breathe and controls our climate through evapotranspiration.
So what would happen if we lost it all?
A study published in 2012 in Nature showed that the Amazon was responsible for bringing rain to the surrounding region and that “Deforestation can reduce rainfall over a wide region, even as it spurs increased rainfall in the immediate area where that deforestation took place,” Scientific American reports. “Deforestation in the Amazon could sharply reduce rainfall in non forested parts of southern Brazil, a rich agricultural area, as well as Paraguay and Uruguay…” and beyond.
With less rain comes less drinking water and less water for agriculture. Without rain, water and food supplies will be much more scarce.
More greenhouse gases
Continuing to cut down trees in the Amazon will lead to “tremendous quantities of planet-warming greenhouse gases” says National Geographic. As tropical forest researcher Adriane Esquivel-Muelbert told the magazine, “If we mess up with the Amazon, carbon dioxide emissions will increase so massively that everyone will suffer.” Namely, with poorer air quality and hotter global temperatures.
With longer dry spells, come massive amounts of flooding afterwards. This wouldn’t be an issue for just Brazil either, this will be worldwide.
Loss of biodiversity
The Amazon has a staggering number of species of pants, animals, insects and fungi, all key elements to a strong ecosystem. By wiping out trees, ecosystems will be lost and much more endangered species will face a slow death with the loss of their homes.
Loss of medical possibilities
Without ecosystems in places like the Amazon, we lose medical possibilities. About 90 percent of human diseases are treatable with prescription drugs that were derived from things in nature many of which have their origins in the Amazon.
Bigger, longer fires
Due to the loss of rain that would happen, there would be bigger fires that will burn longer than we have ever seen. The fires will release more carbon into the atmosphere continuing to make our climate hotter.
Not only is the Amazon home to many plant and animal species but to many humans as well whom rely on the rainforest to live. “All of t]the world's rainforests…provide food, energy security, incomes, and medicinal plants for 300 million people,” points out The Guardian. “And as the forests come down, the people who live in or around them and depend on them become impoverished. Without the forests, people migrate to cities, or move to richer countries in search of work.”
We as humans and global citizens have a responsibility to protect the Amazon rainforest not only for the people of South America, but for people everywhere. The Amazon rainforest is the lungs of our planet and without it, we could lose so much.
Instead of contributing to the problem, we can take some of the responsibility off the Amazon by switching to solar energy. Solar energy greatly reduces our carbon footprint giving us, and people all over the world the opportunity to breathe cleaner air.