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Deforestation 5

  • Date Submitted: 10/11/2010 08:36 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 62.7 
  • Words: 994
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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, the biggest cause of global warming.

The loss of the forests is largely the result of overpopulation. Hungry landless masses in Asia compete with commercial logging for the available resources. At the moment, the landless masses are winning. The overwhelming bulk of the wood and timber of tropical forests is burnt where it stands. Of that which is extracted, only 17 per cent goes for industrial use. The rest is used for firewood. The concept of natural forest as spare land ready for agriculture is predominant. It is the central reality of the deforestation crisis. In 1988, 60 million acres of Rondonia in the Brazilian Amazon was burnt for grazing and cropland. Billions of dollars worth of timber went up in smoke, wasted because there was no ready economic market for it. The forest was seen to have more value as agricultural land than as standing forests to be harvested.

Just how bad the situation is can be revealed by satellite photograph. Such a photograph of the Amazon basin will reveal hundreds of points of light stretching from Bolivia to the Atlantic. Each point of light indicates a man-made forest fire at least half a mile wide. In 1988 and 1989, there were at least 15,000 such fires which meant that Brazil sent half as much carbon into the atmosphere as Japan.



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