The World’s Lungs: Rainforests

Zoey Green

More stories from Zoey Green

Tropical rainforests are known as the “lungs of the planet”. Trees draw in the carbon-dioxide and they breathe out oxygen. The biggest rainforest is the Amazon Rainforest. It is part of nine countries which covers 40% of South America. 

The Amazon Rainforest is almost the same size as the continent of the United States. ⅕ of the world’s freshwater runs through it and it is home to more species than any other place on Earth. The rainforest has a cooling effect on the Earth, the trees act as natural air conditioners for the Earth. Since the forest absorbs and stores CO2, it is released back into the atmosphere when the trees are cut down and burned. If deforestation continues at the levels it has been, the Earth we know now is heading for disaster. The Amazon region would become drier and the habitats or croplands won’t be healthy. 

The rainforest takes in about ¼ of the Earth’s CO2. This amount is 30% less than it was in the 1990s due to deforestation. Most of the reasons why people want to deforest the Amazon is to push cattle ranching. The USA, China and other countries are prime sources of income from increase of beef consumption. But many countries are making progress in the effort to stop deforestation. Countries in South America, Southeast Asia and China have taken the steps to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Brazil continues to make amazing steps towards reducing the impact on the climate. The CO2 emissions have dropped more than any country in the past two decades. The destruction of the rainforest in Brazil has also dropped from the original 19,943 square kilometers per year to 5,180 square kilometers per year. One of the major issues the rainforest is still facing today is illegal deforestation.

51% of the rainforest is considered to be protected. It is supposed to protect against all things that could harm the rainforest; even though sometimes that doesn’t always do the trick. There are people that go into the rainforest and cut down the trees that are right on the border of the protected areas. They do this for a living or for money. This is how some people make a livelihood. They believe that if there are trees they can be cut down. 

It is our job as the people of the Earth to protect resources that are keeping not only us alive but animals and organisms that live within it. We are the only living beings on this planet with a voice, a voice we can use to make a change; for the good. I’m not saying that you should go to the extremes to try and help to save the planet. But remember that we only get one chance, one planet, one Earth, one home we all get to call ours.