19 April 2012
Posted in Earth Day
Conserving our natural resources should be a top priority for everyone, but due to social and economic pressures, it’s a lot easier said than done. Among those concerns is preserving our land.
It may not get more important than saving our planet’s rainforests, namely the Amazon, which is severely threatened by deforestation.
How does deforestation of the Amazon rainforest affect me in Orlando or in any other part of the world you may ask?
For starters, the Amazon is so large, that the atmosphere of our planet would be turned upside down without it. Its absorption of carbon dioxide and release of oxygen is the largest factor in preventing global warming. With more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen produced by the rainforest, the effect would be felt by everyone on earth.
As if that wasn’t enough, scientists estimate deforestation is to blame for the loss of 137 plant, animal and insect species every day and 50,000 species a year. With their extinction, we lose the potential for cures of life-threatening diseases.
As of today, more than 100 prescription drugs sold around the world come from plant-derived sources. And the biggest eye opener? Twenty-five percent of Western pharmaceuticals originate from the rainforest, while less one percent of its tropical trees and plants have even been tested by scientists.
Of the 3,000 plants that are active against cancer cells, 70 percent are found in the Amazon; a quarter of the active ingredients in modern cancer-fighting drugs derive from organisms found only in the rainforest.
In fact, periwinkle, a rainforest plant from which we get vincristine, is one of the most powerful anticancer drugs in the world. Thanks to it, we have increased the survival rate for acute childhood leukemia since its discovery.
And for the food lovers, more than four-fifths of developing countries’ diet can be sourced to the rainforest. From it, we’ve received fruits such as avocados, oranges and bananas and vegetables like corn, potatoes and rice. And don’t forget chocolate!
While 2011 showed the slowest deforestation rate since records started being kept, it’s dependent upon mankind to preserve what nature intended to last forever.