Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Gordon Forgey
Gazette Publisher 

One step forward, another back


November 21, 2019

The Amazon rainforest is getting international attention, more than it has in the past. Long recognized as the heart of the world’s climate control, it is being devastated even more than in the past. Reportedly, more of the untouched jungles have been lost in the last year than in each of the past ten years. Industrial developments such as dams and proposed gold mines, logging and farming have taken a chunk out of the forest. More devastating is land speculation. Supposedly, cleared land is up to 50 or so percent more valuable than preserved natural land.

The government of Brazil has been accused of giving a green light to various uses of the rain forest. About 30 percent more of the forests has been lost in the last year over the previous year.

The Amazon rainforest is a natural controller of the weather. It is called the “planet’s lungs.” It holds vast amounts of carbon dioxide that are not released into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a key element of climatic change and global warming. The forests also emit oxygen as well as water vapor which helps to cool the earth and provide rainfall.

Destroying more of the rain forests can only speed up climate change. International efforts are afoot to help slow the loss of the rain forests and to influence the Brazilian government of the importance of the area to the rest of the world.

Climate change is a threat to humankind. Individual countries and organizations are trying to combat it. Millions of trees have been planted to offset climate change in organized tree planting projects around the world. A study indicated that planting trees could be the most effective way of combating climate change. It would entail restoring forests with millions if not billions of trees. Such an effort, after the forests mature, would offset about two thirds of the carbon released in the atmosphere.

It is a complicated issue. Trees alone will not solve the problem, but plantings can be helpful. Weaning the world off fossil fuels is still the most important aspect of slowing climate change.

Despite the federal government’s reluctance to embrace the science and symptoms of climate change, thousands of groups, corporations, cities and governments are actively working on stemming the predicted disaster of continued warming. Their projects and programs are varied. Young people around the world are active in trying to combat the changes, as well. They, of course, will have to live with the consequences if the situation cannot be improved or slowed.

It is complicated, but saving the rainforests would be a vital step forward.

Gordon Forgey



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