Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 124 of our Green Year: Supporting The Rainforest

In the past 25 years, there have been a few hot button environment issues. Easily the big four have been climate change, ozone depletion, endangered species and the rain forest. While countries around the world and especially in Europe are doing what they can to limit global warming, the ozone is actually beginning to recover because of the banning of CFCs and some animals like the Grey wolf and bald eagle have actually bounced back from near extinction, there is still something that does not seem to be slowing down. It is the rainforest and for the past few decades it has been one of the biggest worries for life on Earth.
Before going into what we are doing to protect the rainforest as part of Our Green Year, some information about the world's rainforest is needed.
  • Before humans decided the Earth needed to be pillaged, rainforests covered 14 percent of the planet, now they cover six percent and what is left could be gone in 40 years.
  • One and a half acres are lost every single second. That means in the 20 minutes it took me to write this post and research it, 1,800 acres of rainforest will be lost. In the time it takes you to read it, about 90 acres will be lost.
  • Half of the world's species of plants, animals and microorganisms will be destroyed in the next quarter century because of rainforest destruction.
  • Every single day, 137 plant, animal and insect species are destroyed because of rainforest deforestation. This is about 50,000 species a year. In the 124 days of Our Green Year so far, 16,988 species have disappeared from the rainforests, most before we even got a chance to understand them.
  • About 500 years ago, there was 10,000,000 natives living in the Amazonian Rainforest, now there is 200,000. Since the 1900s, 90 tribes have been destroyed by European colonists.
  • The Amazon Rainforest covers 1,000,000,000 acres. If it were a country, it would be the ninth largest country in the entire world.
  • About 20 percent of the world's oxygen comes from the Amazon Rainforest alone.
  • Half of the 10,000,000 species on the planet (plants, animals and insects) live in tropical rainforests. About 1/5 of the world's fresh water is also in the Amazon Basin.
  • In 2.47 acres of the rainforest, you will find 750 types of trees and 1,500 species of plants.
  • The rainforest feeds us with items that include avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangoes, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, rice, squash, yams, black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar cane, tumeric, coffee, vanilla, Brazil nuts and cashews.
  • About 3,000 different fruits are found in the rainforests, 200 of which are used in the western world.
  • About 25 percent of all the pharmaceuticals used in the West come from rainforest ingredients, but scientists have only tested one percent of the trees in the rainforest.
  • The U.S. National Cancer Institute has found 3,000 plants that are active fighters against cancer cells, and 70 percent of those come from the rainforests.
This is definetely food for thought, and while we will be doing more as Our Green Year moves on, today we are doing something everyone can do to help; clicking a mouse.

The RainForest Site is one of those great sites that uses the internet the way it should be used, just like the Free Rice site we mentioned weeks ago. As the site description says, "The Rainforest Site is dedicated to the preservation of rainforests around the world. Your daily click funds the purchase of rainforest land by The Nature Conservancy, The Rainforest Conservation Fund, The World Parks Endowment, and Rainforest2Reef. These organizations work to preserve rainforest land in Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay and other locations worldwide."

In total, 35,500 people from around the world come to the site each day to click, and so far 150,000,000 visitors have saved 40,500 acres of land.

If you have a free moment, go there and click to help save something that is very important to the Earth and us.