Of all of the issues that effect the planet Earth from a Global Change standpoint, one of the most visible and highly publicized is the issue of rainforest destruction. The loss of this emerald on the planet's crown will end life as we know it, if something is not done...
* Rain forests are shrinking at a rate of 100 acres per minute...
There are primarily three activities which are causing rainforest destruction: agriculture, logging, and mining.
Agriculture is an absolute necessity for human life on Earth to continue. There are too many people on the planet for existence as hunters and gatherers to work anymore. That said, it must be realized that concessions must be made to allow such food growth and production to occur. But this does not mean that another important element of life on Earth can be destroyed for it. Unfortunately, that is indeed what is occurring, at an alarming rate. The rainforests of the planet are dwindling as the land they belong on is used more and more for agriculture, all over the world. In the Amazon, ,the most commonly detrimental agricultural practice is the technique of land clearing known as Slash and Burn.
Slash and Burn
This practice is a quick and economically inexpensive method or clearing land for grazing or raising crops. It is accomplished by cutting down all the trees and brush in an area, as fast as possible (Slash) and then setting fire to the area, to get rid of all of the mess (Burn). It has proved to be a quite efficient way to pointlessly destroy the forest, because the land shortly becomes arid and barren without the trees there to maintain it's former richness. This is compounded by the lack of crop-rotation, which only speeds up the process of dry desert formation where there was once lush rainforest, full of life.
There was a great increase in the amount of rainforest fires last year, due to slash and burn farming practices. After years of recession, cattle ranchers have more money to invest in clearing land. Small farmers continue to move into the rain forest. While people are setting fires to clear forest land, the El Nino weather phenomenon is aggravating those fires. El Nino has dramatically reduced humidity in the Amazon, turning loose foliage into kindling. The extremely high temperatures and drought conditions make it easier for fires to spread. In an effort to control deforestation, Brazil's environmental inspectors are fining those who burn or log illegally. Government regulations require landowners in the Amazon to preserve 80 percent of their land. But for every person who is fined for destroying the rain forest, hundreds are never caught. There are only about 300 inspectors monitoring the vast Amazon region. "They're outnumbered. Just a handful of inspectors can't possibly control an area that's 5 million square kilometers." - Philip Fearnside of the Institute for Amazon Research
The utilization by man of trees for wood has been...