What are some of the perils of the Amazon Rain Forest? What are some of the resources of the Amazon Rain Forest?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In general, rain forests are home to nearly half of the entire world's species of animals, are significant factors in regulating weather, and contain a large percentage of the world's natural resources. Specifically,

[t]he Amazonian Rainforest covers over a billion acres, encompassing areas in Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia and the Eastern Andean region of Ecuador and Peru. If Amazonia were a country, it would be the ninth largest in the world.

Considering the enormity of this natural wonder, it is not surprising to learn that the Amazon Rain Forest is both a rich resource and a dangerous place.

The resources that can be found in the Amazon Rain Forest are virtually limitless and mostly untapped. They include but are not limited to the following:

  • more than 20% of the world's oxygen is produced here
  • more than 20% of the world's water is contained here
  • more species of fish here than in the Atlantic Ocean
  • 25% of all drugs on the market are derived from rainforest ingredients
  • drugs for AIDS, arthritis, Azheimer's, cancer, diabetes, muscle relaxants, and steroids are all derived from rainforest plants--and only 1% of the plants have even been tested; perhaps the most common and noteworthy medicine to be derived from the rain forest is aspirin
  • as much as 80% of the food consumed by the developed world came originally from here (such items as fruits, vegetables, spices, and nuts.

The significance of all rain forests and this one in particular is clear. Unfortunately, the Amazon Rain Forest is also a perilous place.

  • mosquitoes found here carry malaria
  • most of the many animals found in the Amazon will attack humans whey confront them, though usually only out of self-defense
  • many of the animals here are deadly to humans, such as the Black Caimon, the electric eel, and the poison dart frog
  • heavy rains can prove dangerous to anyone caught unawares int he Amazon Rain Forest.

Another way to talk about perils in the rain forest is to explain the things that are happening to it which put the rain forest known as Amazonia in significant and serious danger. 

  • rain forests once comprised 14% of the world's land; now that number is 6%--and shrinking
  • as the rain forest shrinks, so do the resources and benefits it provides to all of us
  • short-sighted businessmen want to sell everything they can in order to turn a profit without any serious consideration for ensuring that all of the forest's resources are renewable

The latest statistics show that rainforest land converted to cattle operations yields the land owner $60 per acre and if timber is harvested, the land is worth $400 per acre. However, if these renewable and sustainable resources are harvested, the land will yield the land owner $2,400 per acre. 

This fact has not caused a change of behavior.

  • many of the indigenous people who have long made the Amazon Rain Forest their home have been made extinct. Some estimate that there were ten million native Indians living in the rain forest; today fewer than 200,000 of them remain. Approximately 90 tribes have been decimated by colonialism, deforestation and other factors since the early 1900s.

Clearly it is in the best interest of the world to ensure that the Amazon Rain Forest be both protected from further devastation and explored for even greater contributions to the world. That exploration must be controlled to avoid further devastation as well as to protect those who venture into the vast and dangerous rain forests. 

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