Deforestation is a major concern in todays society. The destruction of the worlds forest areas are leaving millions of acres uninhabitable. The varied species of animals and insects that use to live and thrive from these forests are rapidly becoming extinct. The destruction of the forest is also having a detrimental effect on the people through displacement thus forcing them to seek new living accommodations. Many of these people are loosing their heritage and cultures leaving them with a sense of hopelessness.
The barren land left by deforestation is also causing many ecological problems. Increased flooding and soil erosion are two of the other problems facing several countries like China, Brazil, and the Philippines. To gain a better understanding of the immense significance of this matter perhaps a look at the past, present and future are needed. Deforestation Past Since the beginning of time humans have used natures resources to exist. They have hunted for food, drunk the water, used animal hides for clothing and even used the timber for warmth and homes.
It was not until the twentieth century that man began to realize the effects of their enormous usage on the environment. Although staples like food and water are a problem in them selves, large-scale logging brought deforestation to the forefront. The World Rainforest Movement suggests that Western Europe, for example, has lost over 70 percent of its forests since Roman times and argues that fully one-third of temperate broadleaved forests have been lost since the dawn of agriculture (Elliott, 1998).
In 1901 President Theodore Roosevelt along with Gifford Pinchot and John Muir wrote the first pages of modern environmental history in the United States by moving environmental conservation to the center of national agenda and declaring public primacy over the nations resources (Shabecoff, 1993). In 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt shored up his cousins beliefs in the environment by including major conservation programs and projects such as The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Soil Conservation Service, and the Tennessee Valley Authority into his New Deal reforms (Theodore, Theodore 1996).
The Presidents Commission on Materials Policy in 1952 estimated that 90 percent of the virgin timber in the U. S. commercial forests had been cut, that reforestation had not kept pace, and that the current rate of annual use was 40 percent greater than the growth rate of replacement timber thus placing the American timber market in imminent danger (Andrews, 1999).
In 1970 President Richard Nixon signed one of our nations greatest environmental legislative acts called the National Environmental Policy Act, which required the federal government to analyze and report on environmental impacts through several new organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (Theodore, Theodore, 1996). If people do not move forward and realize the inherent dangers that large-scale deforestation has on our environment than there may be no hope for future generations.
Although America has begun to place restrictions on various environmental issues such as logging and pollution much more needs to be done. Deforestation Present In todays society environmentalists are lobbing even harder than ever before. Partially because of the legislative backpedaling that occurred under the Reagan and Bush administrations and partly because of the wider public interest in environmental protection and recycling. The public and environmentalists are realizing that deforestation is taking their tolls in more ways than ever before.
With the reduction of 70 percent of the worlds forests since the thirteenth century the effects have been linked to such things as mass soil erosion, substantial growth in desert and aired lands, as well as global warming. Although many environmentalists are making headway the battle seems at times pointless. Countries such as Japan, China and Vietnam as well as large conglomerate corporations including American owned companies do not share the same view as the environmentalists. In 1994 Japan obtained cutting rights to 1. 5 million acres of dense timberland in Borneo alone (Wagner, 1998).
American companies are joining the import timber movement by making agreements for large concessions of land in the Philippines, Malaysia, and the Amazon Basin (Wagner, 1998). In 1982 the EPA began a crackdown called the Confrontational Enforcement Policy which began referring environmental infractions to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution which by 1985 resulted in forty indictments and half a million dollars a year in fines and by 1989 this had increased to over one hundred indictments and convictions with over $12 million in fines annually (U.
S. Council on Environmental Quality, 1990). New problems are faced in countries every day concerning the environment. Today it is global warming; tomorrow it could be anything from nuclear devastation to lack of oxygen. Nobody really knows what is coming next but, one thing that is known is if the environmental problems of today can not be dealt with in a constructive manor for all humanity, than how are people going to deal with the problems of tomorrow. Deforestation Future Trends
Even though countries like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have made the most evident progress on environmental issues there must be a greater awareness on a global scale. Environmental problems endanger every nation and if mother earth is going to survive than future technology may be the answer. The environmental future lies in Sustainable Development which is an interdisciplinary concept that springs from three intellectual sources, the ecological sciences, economics, and from philosophy and ethics (Mercuro, 1997).
In 1992 the Energy Policy Act directed the Department of Energy to develop a national energy strategy to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases, and specifically to achieve a 30 percent increase in energy efficiency by 2010 and a 75 percent increase in the use of renewable energy by 2005 thus reducing dependency on fossil fuels such as wood, oil, and coal (Andrews, 1999).
Countries such as Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands have begun to enact product responsibility laws throughout the Life Cycle of the product and they are developing Eco-industrial parks to increase efficiency and reduce the use of raw resources, energy, and materials (Andrews, 1999). A program for the future consists of the difficult obligation to implement change in a world so reluctant to change. Transformations in the future must come from individuals, groups, industries and governments alike.
Although we may be able to use new technology to enhance ways to rejuvenate the environment, people must still take the first step. Conclusion From the beginning of time man has utilized and destroyed every resource that they have come to acquire; people throughout the world are slowly realizing the inevitability of their indiscretions. Progress in areas of deforestation and reforestation are creeping along in small steps most of the time but it is progress all the same.
The hope of many environmentalists is that these positive results will be widely replicated by others and will gradually replace practices that cause more severe environmental impacts or problems. The unanswered question is weather such a hope is realistic in the face of the impersonal, price-driven forces of global markets and the reality that even the best production processes today still require the use of growing amounts of materials, energy and the continued transformation of the landscape for the expanding human population.