By Fredrica Syren:
The problem of deforestation in the Amazon is not new. But it has gotten much worse since the early 2000s, when Brazil’s government allowed substantially more farming in the Amazon as global demand for beef and animal feed increased. Is this a problem for us? Well, yes, because the Amazon, known as the lungs of our planet, provides 20% of the entire world’s oxygen, which helps stabilize the world’s climate.
The rainforest plays a major role in reducing carbon dioxide because tropical forest trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen during photosynthesis, making protection oftropical forests from deforestation even more important. We must reduce emissions to levels needed in order to protect the planet against the worst and most expensive global warming impacts.
There are many ways we as consumers can help save the rainforest. Here are some:
Buy palm oil free foods and body products—Due to its versatility and inexpensive production costs, palm oil has become very popular. This has attracted negative attention from environmental activist groups because high demand for palm oil has led to widespread deforestation over the last four decades.
Drive a hybrid or electrical car—The increased demand for oil makes Brazil one of the top fifteen oil producing countries in the world, but more is needed. Drillers are looking toward the rainforest in their search for oil, so oil companies already have bought 70% of the Peruvian Amazon for the purpose of producing more.
Walk or bike to work—A great way not to use any oil at all and produce zero emissions is to get around by walking or biking. Plus, it’s beneficial for your health. A win/win situationJ
Don’t buy furniture or musical instruments made from rainforest wood—Not only is the mahogany imported from Brazil illegal, but it is also the cause of widespread lumber poaching across the Amazon Basin. It directly caused entire stands of forests to disappear forever, so always avoid buying mahogany as well as rosewood, ebony and other tropical hardwoods. Better options are products made with white ash, black cherry or maple.
Donate to nonprofit environmental groups who are working on protecting the rainforests—These groups play a very important role in the fight for the preservation of the rainforest, and usually work with very little help and financial support. They work on educating the locals as well as the government in order to get tougher protection. They also are keeping an eye on multinational companies and are pushing for cleaner practices.
Eat less beef and only local beef—It’s a known fact that the beef industry has a huge negative impact on the rainforest, particularly in Brazil. The beef industry is responsible for trees being cut down in order to convert land into pasture for cattle grazing. It’sestimated that 70 percent of all the deforestation in the Amazon basin is attributed to cattle ranching. So the best option is, first of all, to eat less beef and, second, to eat only locally and organically raised beef as much as possible. These days we usually can buy beef at our local farmers’ market.
Drink only sustainable coffee—Who knew that our morning cup of Joe can have a negative effect on the world’s rainforests? Just like palm oil production, coffee plantations also lead to deforestation. So select sustainable farmers’ coffee, and look for a “Rainforest Alliance” label to show that this coffee was produced under sustainable conditions.
Most crucial to all life’s survival on earth, the rainforest — along with the coral reef — is among the most delicate and most important ecosystems. When it comes to the health of our planet, we have no choice: we have to save it. The good news is that there is plenty we can do.