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Intro: This was originally written back in 2001 for RITRO.com, a volunteer Web community based on Real Insight Through Raw Opinion. I’m re-posting it here today in honor of the “Environmental Awareness” Fairy Oracle I drew this morning.

“Environmental Health: A Look at the Rain Forest”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
2001

One who experiences the diversity and indescribable beauty of the rain forest may be impressed with its plant and animal variety on a strictly visual and audio basis, but the rain forests are essential to human life, providing medicines, foods and climate control.

Rain forests have provided enormous contributions to human well being through food, climate control and drugs obtained from, or based on, plants from the rain forest; including Rosy Periwinkle, a plant used to battle Hodgkin’s disease and child leukemia. It is estimated that the Indians in Amazonia used no less than 1600 pharmaceutical plant extracts. Amazingly, it is probable that there are at least 10,000 plant species worldwide that have not yet been identified. In addition, as food crops, we only use 7,000 of about 75,000 known edible plants.

Unfortunately, for all the beauty, life, life-saving foods and medicines the rain forest has provided humanity, our way of saying thank you has left much to be desired. While some may chop down the forest for purposes of logging; some clearing it for agricultural purposes and indigenous peoples who cultivate the land through lack of choice, humanity is setting itself up for certain disaster.

Each year, up to 54,000 square miles of rain forest are destroyed and 500,000 trees are cut down every hour. Due to the removal of trees, we lose 20,000 to 100,000 species per year and may lose 20% of all species on the planet within the next 30 years.

The immediate causes of deforestation are logging, shifted cultivators (indigenous peoples forced from their natural homelands into the rain forest, of which they have no knowledge, understanding or appreciation), cash crops & cattle ranching, firewood, large dams, mining & industry, colonization schemes and tourism.

Underlying causes of deforestation are development & over consuption: The basis cause colonialism, exploitation by industrialized countries, the debt burden and the role of poverty and over population.

As a result, tropical rain forests are reduced to less than 6% of the world’s surface. Before we destroy that as well, let us remember that the 6% of rain forest left contains no less than one half of all the world’s species of plants; one of which is currently being researched as a potential cure for AIDS.

While the rates of destruction are overwhelming, there is something you can do to help. The Tropical Rain Forest Coalition has provided the following list of things you can do to help save the rain forests, therefore saving ourselves:

1. Write, email or call your representatives in government.
2. Make changes toward a less environmentally harmful lifestyle.
3. Support human rights of indigenous peoples worldwide.
4. Do not buy products that cause destruction of the rain forests.
5. Donate to organizations that save rain forest acreage.
6. Learn more about the rain forests.
7. Spread the word to others on the importance of rain forests.
8. Help out or form a local club or social group that supports rain forest preservation.
9. Sponsor a school study program educating about the rain forests.
10. Learn more about The Rain Forest Coalition’s “save an acre” program.

Deforestation threatens to change climates and accelerate global warming. Deforestation eliminates food and medical possibilities, creates soil erosion, floods and destroys the life of plants and animals. To learn more about the rain forest and what you can do to help save them, visit the Tropical Rainforest Coalition or the Rainforest Information Center.

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