The issue of conservation has been discussed, dissected, and debated over for centuries by people who understand that endlessly destroying habitats and over-hunting species inevitably leads to permanent damage that affects everyone. Sure, there have been major milestones in the efforts to stabilize natural habitats such as Theodore Roosevelt’s actions in creating national parks and protecting 230 million acres of land, but it will have to take a worldwide effort in order to secure the biosphere (“Theodore Roosevelt and Conservation”).
So it would then be key for people to firmly and completely protect rainforests that are scattered throughout the globe in order to preserve such a diverse piece of the planet. A well planned system aimed towards banning rainforest destruction should be implemented because of the effects major climate change, unsustainable and corrupt economies, and loss of medicines that can be avoided because of it.
The massive and consistent rate of destroying rainforests has created devastating shifts in the weather and climate in those immediate areas and on a global scale, so the stability of Earth’s climate relies heavily on banning rainforest deforestation. One role that rainforests play in regulating climate is stimulating precipitation through evapotranspiration and keeping the forest floor cool, so the climate becomes significantly drier and warmer when the land is converted to pastures.
Evapotranspiration, or evaporation of water from plants into the atmosphere, is key to this cycle because without enough of it then there is less rain, which means there is more competition for water between all organisms. It is also shown how even when early secondary success plants such as shortgrasses have filled in the clear cut areas that a decrease in rain and higher temperatures are still present (Moraes et al. ). Furthermore, there are also serious alterations in specific weather patterns along with the overall climate.
Due to deforestation, there are now irregular rain patterns where the intervals and intensity of precipitation have shifted, causing major soil runoff and inefficient photosynthesis, translating to less carbon dioxide, an agent in global warming, being soaked up by plants (Medvigy et al. ). Also, along with less greenhouse gases being taken out of the atmosphere, it has been discovered that, “deforestation accounts for up to 25 per cent of global emissions of heat-trapping gases” (Howden et al. ).
Now, it may seem that this scenario is just a dangerous slippery slope, but the interdependence of ecological systems and the balance between life and death cannot be underestimated, especially as one estimate shows that 15% of rainforest species have become extinct due partly to not being able to quickly adapt to this shift (Rainforest Conservation Fund). Therefore, the planet’s health and delicate balances that people rely on from growing food to maintaining current coastal residences need to be guarded by banning the massive amount of deforestation that is causing rapid shifts in the climate and regional weather.
The boosts in countries economies due to deforestation are unsustainable and give incentive for corruptive behavior such as illegal logging, which can have severe repercussions down the line if not kept in check. However, despite all of the warnings and dangers of deforestation, it is tempting for people to argue that, “just as the U. S. and Europe have been allowed to use significant portions of their land to meet the needs of their people, so too must developing nations like Brazil be given that same opportunity” (Rothbard et al. . It is undeniable that companies and local farmers may be experiencing profitable economic opportunities from logging and/or clearing the way for agriculture and livestock, but as the number of trees that can be cut down is finite and the rapid loss of soil fertility means more land for the same amount of crops, these economic gains are not justifiable in the long run.
With one estimate being that just the Amazon rainforest alone has been reduced seventeen percent in just the past fifty years, it is clear that with demands for resources going up, that this wasteful trend is not a permanent solution to countries’ problems (“The World Wildlife Foundation”). Another aspect of economies dependent on deforestation is that just as poachers illegally kill animals in protected areas for massive amounts of money, there is an incentive in these countries to perform illegal logging practices.
It is unfortunate that after investigation there is, “evidence [that] confirms that district governments play an important role in facilitating illegal logging in a variety of ways,” those “ways” including systematic deforestation occurring outside designated areas, allowing passage of that illegally harvested timber, and opening more oil palm farms within protected parks.
A specific example of a country carrying such such an environmentally devastating scheme is Indonesia where approximately 60% to 80% of its logging is actually illegal, and the reason this corrupt system has been allowed to persist is because about the equivalent of one billion U. S. dollars per year is earned through this particular system (Burgess et al. ). It is especially necessary for developing countries to put a ban on deforestation in their rainforests in order to provide their people with a sustainable and long term economy that is free of nefarious behavior and respected worldwide.
Many of the crucial medicines refined and studied in laboratories and used by people around the world come from rainforests; therefore, these regions need to be protected in order to keep and form new live saving drugs. An outstanding example of the vital medicine derived from rainforests is they study and development of the Madagascar periwinkle plant which has been used to cure the fatal childhood illness of acute lymphocytic leukemia.
This illness, which is the life threatening cancer of the bone marrow, is now curable to due this plant-derived medicine, saving at least 100,000 children, and created “dramatic reversal, like a phoenix arising from the ashes”. Another instance of a seemingly unconventional medicine is the venom of the viper Bothrops jararaca which has been refined into an effective treatment for hypertension (rainforest trust).
Also, there is earth-shattering discovery in the field of plant derived medicine from a rare tree in Malaysia that has a high potential to be used in treating the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. However, the devastating effects of careless deforestation comes into play here because when researchers made their way back to the tree site, that area had already been canvassed for firewood. Thankfully, though, other specimens of this rare tree was found at a botanic garden, but this and many other potential cures to diseases cannot be jeopardized (“Owed to Nature”).
Looking now towards the scope of modern medications founded upon natural compounds, it is said that, “in the United States, approximately twenty-five percent of prescription drugs derive from plant extracts, thirteen percent from microorganisms, and three percent from animals,” which are numbers that speak for humanity’s continued reliance on natural and unique resources (Newman). Also, it has become evident that, “We cannot imagine a world without antibiotics such as penicillin,” or practically any other medicine that has become integrated and reliant upon in the developed world (“Owed to Nature”).
It would be foolish to further the destruction of Earth’s densely diverse rainforests while so many people’s lives and well-being are reliant upon the medicinal qualities of its organisms. There is also a large population of the traditional cultures and poorer regions that rely heavily on directly collecting plants and animals for primitive, yet effective, medicine, so the lives of these people are even more dependent upon the rainforests being able to thrive. A notable community that is located within the Amazon rainforest is the Caiqaras people who are self-sufficient and live off the land.
By passing down the knowledge of hundreds of different plants and techniques from generation to generation, these people have been able to treat themselves of a range of respiratory, gastrointestinal, circulatory, heart, and urological problems, usually through various hot tea and infused baths. One form of their traditional medicine is harvesting the sap of the Sangre de Drago plant, or “Dragon’s Blood,” in order to effectively alleviate illnesses such as stomach ulcers, along with using Eugenia uniflora L. o treat potentially deadly influenza, and Baccharis trimera used for a condition as complex as diabetes (King). Another property of a majority of theses treatments is that the natives are stretching their supplies by having the same plant used to cure different illnesses, but even then they have to have access to those resources without fear of them disappearing due to them being cut or burnt down.
Furthermore, because all of these plants and a handful of animals are so central to these people’s capacity for survival, it is paramount that a “blanket” conservation effort is taken by protecting one hundred percent of the rainforests, especially because outside of a couple hundred tribal groups left are the only ones that can identify all the important resources. It is also necessary to mention that another reason why about 80% of the world’s people is still dependent upon primitive medical practices is because of the high prices and unavailability of manufactured medications in many regions.
Crippling poverty provides these people with no other option when deciding how to handle their health, thus making it a moral responsibility that deforestation of rainforests is stopped so as to sustain the raw resources necessary for these people to survive. While the moral responsibility of preserving the planet as humans have the greatest control of any species over the fate of any other organism may be insufficient for people, the consequences that directly and indirectly harm everyone cannot be ignored.
Whether it be because changes in global climate which damages everything from biodiversity to the success of American farmers, the unsustainable economies which are doomed to collapse being fueled by unethical practices, or the difference between life and death for people around the world whom are dependent medicine gathered from rainforests, action needs to take place to ban deforestation in the most biologically diverse places on Earth.
Gone now are the days where generations can carelessly destroyed entire ecosystems, haphazardly introduce nonnative species, and give no respect to other life, because people are now forced to consider how their actions impact the world around them. So, with this new accountability, it may seem impossible to get enough support behind such a daunting task, but, as world renowned scientist and conservationist Jane Goodall so simply puts it, “Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference. ”