What are the environmental and social effects of deforestation in the Amazon Rain Forest?

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Deforestation is the reduction of vegetation in forested areas. The reduction of vegetation, usually trees, may be a partial or complete removal of existing flora in the region. In the Amazon Rain Forest, deforestation is occurring at an alarming rate. The consequences of deforestation are both environmental and social, and...

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Deforestation is the reduction of vegetation in forested areas. The reduction of vegetation, usually trees, may be a partial or complete removal of existing flora in the region. In the Amazon Rain Forest, deforestation is occurring at an alarming rate. The consequences of deforestation are both environmental and social, and both local and global.
 
Environmental Consequences
  • On a local scale, the Amazon Rain Forest is host to a diverse ecosystem. The destruction of that ecosystem results in loss of both plants and animals, some of which live only in the Amazon and will become extinct if deforestation continues at its current rate. 
  • On a global scale, the Amazon is a large carbon sink: it captures carbon and keeps that carbon out of the atmosphere. The Amazon Rain Forest is also home to a large quantity of plants that are valuable photosynthesizers that convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. Simultaneous loss of those two processes will result in much higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and atmospheric carbon dioxide gas increases global warming through the greenhouse effect.
Social Consequences
  • On a local scale, Amazon deforestation negatively impacts local communities that reside there. Should deforestation continue, groups of people who have made their home in the Amazon will no longer have a home. Often, their livelihood will also cease to exist, as many local people subsist off local resources provided by the rainforest.
  • On a global scale, Amazon deforestation affects the entire human population. Not only do we lose the invaluable aesthetic beauty of the Amazon, we also lose the environmental services it provides us as a carbon sink and large body of photosynthetic organisms. Global warming has negative consequences for all organisms on large and small scales, including humans.
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