How was your day? It wasn’t so good for our rainforests. Let’s take a look at what happened to them just in the last 24 hours. Why? Because it’s a quick assessment of our Earth’s lungs, given that rainforests account for more than 20% of the oxygen produced on our planet. So what did happen today there? Sadly, another 70,000 acres of rainforests were destroyed today and along with it, researchers estimate we lost more than 130 species of plants, animals and insects—now extinct. Ecosystems destroyed, medicinal plants we will never see again. Some rainforests, such as those in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Malaysia (the severely dwindling habitat of the Orangutan) are being destroyed because of the planting of palms for oil, predominately by large corporations such as Cargill—at the rate of 20 square miles of rainforest loss PER DAY. While this may seem horrific, the picture is much worse with other rainforests where many more acres than this are being destroyed per day due to another reason. Over 70% of the rainforests in other parts of the world such as Brazil are still being converted to cattle operations or for crops to feed cattle and other livestock. What can you do about this? 1. Stop eating animal products. That would be a good start. Eating meat is simply fueling the demand to produce more livestock. This is whether you are eating animals produced directly from rainforest areas or not. With every bite of meat, you will still be contributing to the world-wide demand for these products. 2. Encourage all those around you to stop eating animal products, thus reducing demand and beginning to change this unnecessary cultural influence. When we lose rainforests, all of the following occurs:
Loss of biodiversity
Depletion of soil
Disruption of water cycle
Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change
Loss of ability to produce oxygen
Flooding and drought cycles increased
Loss of medicinal/anti-cancer plants
Loss of indigenous tribes
The U.S. has been and still is the largest importer of Central and South American beef. Over 20 million acres of rainforest each year are destroyed to produce cattle to slaughter and eat as food. Millions of acres are also destroyed each year to grow crops such as soy to use as feed for cattle, chickens and other livestock. There needs to be a change and you can help by refusing to eat any type of livestock whether it has come directly from a rainforest area or not. When overall demand for livestock diminishes, so will the needless destruction of our rainforests.
Please read more about rainforests in Comfortably Unaware, Chapter IV.