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Essay

KyuRi Kim

Year-Prize: The 13th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Time for Nature

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The Amazon Rainforest meant dream for me.

 

KyuRi Kim (Malaysia)
Samsung Engineering Prize

 

 

One day, when I was eight, my science teacher brought in a large piece of cardboard with green paper pieces resembling tropical leaves stuck on the ‘canopy layer’ and the thick, brown tree trunks and branches with paper-cut birds sitting on top. Science lesson instantly became the event I looked forward to every week, just because I knew we were studying the Amazon Rainforest for a few more weeks. If it was because of the colourful beak of the toucan, or the unique patterns on the jaguar’s body that mesmerized me and made me fall for the place, I am not sure, but I knew that rainforest was where that I desperately wished to visit one day.
The Amazon Rainforest is known to be one of the most biodiverse places in the world. More than 3 million species and approximately one-third of tropical tree species in the world are found in the rainforest.  The Amazon Rainforest generates about 20% of the oxygen on Earth and takes in a large amount of carbon, giving its nickname – “lungs of the planet”.
However, this crucial peripheral of planet Earth is a threat that could severely affect the species that the rainforest gave generous refuge. According to National Geographic, a striking 17% of the Amazon Rainforest was lost over the 50 years due to deforestation. This figure is even more daunting if we consider that its land area went from covering nearly 15% of the total land surface of the Earth to covering only 6%.  Experts aver that with this rate of deforestation and without any preventive measures taken as soon as possible, the Amazon Rainforest could be destroyed completely within 50 years.  Statistics also support this viewpoint and point out that almost 1 million species living in the rainforests are confronting extinction already.
Rich biodiversity is an essential element of the environment because it provides sustainability to the environment. Different species will interact with each other, developing a complicated yet delicate relationship like food webs and the more complicated it is – meaning that more species make up the relationship –, the more stable it will be. Hence, deforestation will make the ecosystem collapse, as not enough ‘producers’ will be there to initiate the cycle. Unfortunately, the disruption of biodiversity links to many other severe consequences.
Deforestation in tropical regions can be especially devastating as it links directly to the amount of rainfall and dries up the area. Research outlines that in the Amazon Rainforest, areas cultivated for agricultural purposes had high temperatures, providing a potential source for drought, while the forest areas had enough water content in the air, maintaining an ideal condition for organisms to live.  Although drought is a local and limited phenomenon right now, a region so influential like the Amazon Rainforest could extend its reach to other countries soon, meaning that drought could become common around the world. Research proves that this is not a sci-fi scenario; dry seasons in the forest are gradually extending, and the volume of rainfall is being cut off severely in some regions.  Droughts will primarily affect farmers, who will lose their jobs. Next, consumers will not be able to access most of the food source. In the end, food industries will collapse, followed by others related to them.
Furthermore, deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest could culminate in climate change and eventually global warming. As mentioned previously, forests play a huge role in absorbing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which balances the amount of greenhouse emission in the air, thus preventing climate change. However, with humans chopping down most trees and logging the green areas, nature is no more on our side. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that deforestation is a runner-up on the rankings of the cause of climate change.  Every year, we will continue to see the temperature of the planet increasing and will experience melting of ice caps, rising sea levels, and more intense natural disasters unless we start making an effort to restore the harm.
The Amazon Rainforest is not a place that should be changed, and this goes the same with many other areas around the world. What should change is our idle belief that nature is ever so generous and extensive that it will never be exhausted.
Biodiversity could be perceived as a distant term now, but the disruption of it could be the start of a disaster. The disasters outlined above changes will not only affect the indigenous people in the Amazon Rainforest or people that work in deforestation industry but eventually everyone on Earth. We must take initiatives so that we can stop the crises from prolonging and at least maintain the status quo. It is late for us to recover the environment completely, but we could start by reversing some of the wrongdoings we have made and stop actions that have become a pain for other organisms living on the same planet.

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