Is Deforestation Worth It?
Is Deforestation Worth It?
One of the most prevalent issues in our world today is the issue of deforestation. Deforestation can be described as “the practice of clearing the natural forests for agriculture, logging, etc.” (Deforestation Statistics). After hearing the definition of deforestation, most people would not find this to be a very significant issue in the world, but after hearing the alarming statistics associated with deforestation, most would change their mind. For example, arguably the most shocking statistic is that deforestation has resulted in 80 percent of Earth’s forest cover being cut down (Deforestation Statistics). Although the lumber harvested from these rainforests across the world serve important purposes, I do not believe it is worth the price nature has to pay. The bottom line is this: Deforestation of the world’s rainforests is not worth the price paid.
Rainforests are home to countless species of animals, many of which are endangered. By tearing down trees in enormous quantities, humans are destroying the homes of every species that may live there. When taking into consideration that some of the species relying on the forest are endangered, one must realize that engaging in deforestation will likely result in the extinction of that particular species. Deforestation has already eliminated many species from our planet. For example, Michael Greenwell writes that deforestation of the Amazon alone, resulted in the extinction of 26 different types of animals and plants in South America, and 644 other types were in danger of becoming extinct (Greenwell). When taking this information in, one must realize that those 26 different species are forever gone. This is a permanent effect of deforestation. The animals that are surviving deforestation are forced to flee the area and seek new shelter, which may not only be harmful to animals, but to humans as well. In 2009, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, six people were killed by tigers. The reason behind this is that the deforestation occurring in Sumatra led to workers intruding on the habitats of these tigers, ending with the deaths of 6 people (Mongabay). To make matters even more severe than they already are, the Sumatran tiger is “critically-endangered,” and this lumber operation was illegal (Mongabay). Is the wood harvested from that forest worth risking eliminating the last of the 450 Sumatran tigers on earth (Mongabay)?
In addition to the harm deforestation inflicts on animals, deforestation is also harmful to society. Many natives, especially in South America, rely tremendously on the rainforest. These tribes live in the forests, and gather all of their resources from them as well. The lives of these natives are turned upside down when they have no choice but to abandon their home, because the rainforest is being destroyed whether they like it or not (Consequences of Deforestation). Tribes are forced to leave everything they know, and move to more inhabited areas that they are extremely unused to. How can someone who has lived his or her entire life making do with the resources that earth provided suddenly learn to be successful in a city, where he or she is required to speak the language and know certain skills? Deforestation ruins countless lives of people living in or near the Amazon (Consequences of Deforestation). In order to put into perspective just how many people are effected in such a way, an article in the Nature Conservancy website states that “more than 1 billion people living in extreme poverty depend on forests for their water, fuel, or livelihoods” (). Also, much of my family on my father’s side lives in Brazil in order to do mission work. They live in the jungle at times, and would be directly affected if the area of the Amazon in which they reside was to be torn down. After my family in Brazil informed me on how directly deforestation affects the natives they work with, I began to realize that deforestation is even more of an issue than I had believed it to be.
Another harmful side effect of deforestation is the effect it has on the earth’s atmosphere. Deforestation is said to be directly related to the issue of global warming. By cutting down the rainforests, the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere increases. Trees and plants take in hazardous gasses such as carbon dioxide, and convert them into oxygen that we as humans rely on. While cutting down rainforests, we are depriving ourselves of sources of oxygen to breathe, and at the same time, increasing the amount of harmful gasses in the air (Consequences of Deforestation). In fact, “deforestation is the second leading contributor for carbon emissions world wide” (Climate Change: Our Priority). Therefore, everyone who views the issue of global warming as important should also view the issue of deforestation as a problem that needs more attention, because how can one fight global warming if the second leading cause is left unaddressed?
Although I do realize that deforestation provides job opportunities for people in areas with rainforests, and that it provides society with a great deal of wood used for building, paper, and other products, is it really worth the price paid? For every year that passes, enough trees to completely cover the state of New York are cut down as a result of deforestation (Climate Change: What We Do). And if deforestation continues at this rate, it is estimated that all rainforests will be eliminated within a century (Climate Change: What We Do). Over 50 percent of the discovered plant and animal species live in tropical rainforests, and by eliminating the trees, we eliminate these animals. Rainforest deforestation has far more cons than pros, and needs more attention. When considering how this affects plants, animals, the atmosphere, and society, it is evident that deforestation is not worth the price paid.
“Climate Change: Our Priority.” The Nature Conservancy, 2012. Web. 20 March 2012. <http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/climatechange/howwework/reducing-emissions-from-deforestation.xml?src=CPC.AWG.CE2.AG39.CC50.CL2.MT3.KW485&gclid=COeB2uHN964CFWuHtgod-RfByA>
“Climate Change: What We Do.” The Nature Conservancy, 31 August 2011. Web. 20 March 2012. <http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/climatechange/howwework/the-role-of-forests-in-reducing-emissions.xml>
“Consequences of Deforestation.” Effects of Deforestation. Web. 20 March 2012. <http://www.effects-of-deforestation.com/effects-of-deforestation.php>
“Deforestation Blamed For Tiger Maulings in Sumatra.” Mongabay Environmental News, 2009. Web. 20 March 2012. <http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0227-tigers.html>
“Deforestation Statistics.” World Preservation Foundation, 29 June 2010. Web. 20 March 2012. <http://www.worldpreservationfoundation.org/blog/news/deforestation-statistics/>
Greenwell, Michael. “Amazon Deforestation Caused Extinction of 26 Species.” Exit Stage Right, 4 March 2009. Web. 20 March 2012. <http://exitstageright.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/amazon-deforestation-caused-extinction-of-26-species/>