The Purpose Of This Site:
Let it Be known that this is not the greatest site ever assembled on the destruction in Brazil, yet still grabs the important elements to make us all aware, of what exactly is going on, and what we can do to prevent further harm to our beloved rainforest.
Your Humble Webmaster, Eric Malmborg 4/15/02
In South America
|Deforestation, A Brief History|
Note How Much of the Forest Cover lies in the Northern and Western parts of Brazil, mostly in unmarked provinces known as Amazonia and Para.
This cartoon emphasized the wealth certain groups had hoped to gain out of the rainforest during the 1800's.
Here, Roger Casement captures a picture of Indians who were enslaved on a rubber estate, well after African slavery had been abolished, proving that minorities were still being taken advantage of.
What is Deforestation?
Glad you asked.
Webster's Dictionary defines Deforestation as "the clearing of forests or trees." As simple as that. Deforestation doesn't just occur in tropical forests though. The United States has been ravaged by deforestation, and so have many other parts of the world. In fact, since 1700, 19 percent of the world's forests have been removed. ("Case Studies"..) That might not sound like much, but as technology increases, the ability to cut down trees faster also increases.
Sorry Arnold, no sequel in sight for the rainforest, Arnold: "Aww don't bullshit me."
Ronnie, stop thinking about Reaganomics, forestry might be an economic stimulant, but mother nature sure isn't voting for you again.
"Can I take your rainforest, I mean umm.. order."
Did you know that over 50 percent of the largest cattle ranches in Amazonia have never sent cattle to market?
Ok Eric, you've told me a lot, now whose to blame?
As much as I'd like to blame this on one person, everyone is to blame, sorry folks, but every time you buy your furniture or anything wooden for that matter, or even tires from Firestone, you have no idea where they're really coming from. So as consumers, we're all to blame. But I'll definitely tell you who not to thank.
1. Don't thank The Brazilian Government. In Brazil, half of the land is composed of landless peasants, who were for a time, encouraged to go colonize the Amazon since they had no where else to go ("Can Deforestation"..). Because Brazil has a foreign debt of about 150 billion, and most people live below the poverty line, the poor have taken to moving to Amazonia to cattle ranch or farm. Because two or three people can manage a farm of 2- 3,000 cattle, this can cause huge land problems. Something clearly needs to be done strategically to solve the large gap in the classes there and create jobs.
2. While you're at it don't thank the Brazilian people. It's not exactly Northern Michigan families that are moving to Amazonia and taking up farming.
3. The World Bank. What does it do? It funds projects in needy countries for economic development. Sounds good right? Wrong. The Bank's original purpose was to rebuild war torn Europe, but they then became a powerful funding multimillion and billion dollar projects that tore the Amazon, African, and Indonesian jungles apart. The Bank published, along with the United Nations Development Programme and the International Task Force a set of three books called "Tropical Forests: A Call for Action", yet no plans by the World bank to help the forest went into effect until 1991. As I said earlier, the bank funded the "Polonoroeste Project." Oh, 99 percent of the Banks Funds are controlled by The United States.
("World Bank" Juhasz)
4. You guessed it, The United States. The world power, my country. What a joke. As represented by the cartoon, we began problems in South America back in the 1800's, due to greed. Now you know also, that we basically tell the World Bank how high to jump as well. In the early 1980's Scientists and members of AGAPAN " basically Portuguese for protectors of the natural environment, met our congress. What was accomplished? Ronnie and the gang allowed deforestation to increase by 89 percent. In 1982 447 forestry projects were underway, 99 percent by, who else, the United States. What else did we do. Oh, we're the number one importer of mahogany, a big no-no ("Rainforest Fires" Fried and Schwartzman). Oh my favorite president, George Dubba-Yah, decided to abandon his pledge of 1 million dollars a year for rainforest conservation, as well as agree with congress to reject the Kyoto Treaty, which would clean up businesses worldwide. ("Bush Backs" Kornblut). Why should we have ratified it? Being mostly responsible for all pollution put into the air, sounds good enough to me. Imperialism!
Indigenous Peoples Of the Amazon
Of the estimated 6 million indigenous peoples that have inhabited Brazil, guess how many remain? A whopping 200,000. Yep, that's it. Brazil alone lost 87 tribes between 1900 and 1950. More tribal peoples have incurred extinction in this decade than any other ("Global Futures"..). We saw in the photo above, how they were still being exploited. It has gotten so bad, that during this century, tribes in places such as Africa have committed suicide, rather than lose their natural surroundings. Many tribes have traded away valuable resources for things not nearly worth the value of them on the market, because if their lack of modern day education. People will continue taking advantage of them if there is money to be made. If Brazilians continue to flood the Amazon with poor people trying to farm, many of the Indigenous peoples will slowly see their forest dwindle away. Fortunately, organizations such as the Rainforest Foundation, have taken it upon themselves to try to protect the indigenous people's rights and their environments. Indigenous people don't see land as a an opportunity to make money, or exploit anyone, they see it as their way of life, their home.
Scary huh? not just the concept of actually paying for this movie, but letting the Earth turn into the real thing.
So What Can We Do, Really?
Well, if it isn't already obvious, don't bust out your Husqvarna chainsaw and start chopping down tropical forests for fun. I know carpooling is always talked about but it really does help. Reducing emissions might just help our slow government reduce spending on worthless things and getting towards the environment. The site I listed above "RainforestFoundation.org" is a great organization, and if you didn't know where to go and what to do, they would definitely give some direction. Hey, this country is supposedly a democracy, contact your local representative and lets get some things rolling huh? If these ideas don't sound pleasing, there's one that does, and that's getting involved with an environmental group. That doesn't mean chain yourself to a tree, but do something to contribute. The following groups on the right are great starting points. They've been doing it long before I started this site, which wasn't that long ago. Care about your environment, it was here long before you stepped on to it. It deserves some respect. Chico Mendes cared enough about his home to die for it. For more information on Chico Mendes read "The Burning Season," or watch the HBO original movie starring Raul Julia.
Why This Topic?
I chose this topic not only from the standpoint that I had to do it for a class final paper, but also for my own personal interest. I believe there is too much apathy towards the environment as a whole, and the Bush administration is no harboring force for our forests. I love going camping and hiking and seeing something like forests destroyed for personal gain just hurt. This website correctly addresses the concerns talked about in My HST 210 history class because much of what is happening to the rainforest is due to relations between the United States and countries like Brazil. We have the power and the intelligence to work with the Brazilian people to stop Deforestation, and this kind of power is something we have yet to be seen.
Deforestation has been going on ever since the first person decided to chop down a tree in the forest and
build their house out of wood, or
use the wood to build a fire for warmth. Phoenicians
as late as 4,600 years ago exported cedars to the Middle East and ancient Egypt. ("Case Studies"..) Original exploits in the Amazon were led by the Portuguese, who
were controlling South America as a colonization continent.
They led rescue missions through the rainforest to Christianize Amazon tribes, though many of them of course were leading
expeditions hoping to find wealth in gold. Around 1540 was when the tale of "El Dorado" began. Tribes had told of the splendors of jewelry
and gold pyramids. Though the settlers may not have found a wealth of gold in the vast forests of the Amazon, they found an
abundance of exports, including goods such as timber, rubber, quinine, and curare. Rubber became
a highly demanded product beginning in the 1750's. Young nations such as the United States found themselves thirsting for rubber in the early to late 1800's. By the 1850's railroads were clearing forests in order to haul these new exports. Debt servitude in the railroad industry forced many slaves to clear land for Brazil, and
imperialist nations through the late 1800's and early 1900's.
As more exports were found, and the population increased,
the need for lumber for fuel and housing exponentially
rose throughout the 1900's. (Cockburn and Hecht 1-7)
Control of Brazil didn't come until 1822, when Dom Joao
claimed that Brazil was an empire. The Brazilian economy
was able to enforce cheap labor all the way until 1888, when slavery
of Black Africans was finally abolished, though slavery of indigenous peoples probably continued. Throughout all this time, it was not until 1989 that the Brazilian government disclosed it would carryout a huge environmental plan to protect the forests of Amazonia and the Atlantic. ("Brazil" Barthem) Another obvious reason for the rise in deforestation, which I will later discuss in more detail, was the creation of the World Bank in 1944, which has its headquarters in Washington, D.C.
("World Bank" Juhasz)
Hmmm, looks like someone's feeling the power of that big machine, way to bully those trees pal!
What is the Current Status of The Rainforest ?
In The words of the modern day Shakespeare, Arnold Schwarzenegger, "Hasta La Vista, baby." I was able to find various estimates of the last year of survival of the rainforest. Estimates ranged anywhere from the year 2020, till 2100, but most estimates usually fall around 2050. (Case Studies..) The once vast forest along the Southern Coast of Brazil in Bahia, has been reduced to 2-5 percent of its original size, threatening various species of life. ("Bahia" Kruizinga) So more devastating statistics for you include the following:
("World Bank" Juhasz)
In case you don't understand, that's a Belgian waffle. Now you get it?
How come I know how to treat my environment properly and no matter how much I repeat it, my government doesn't?
With those tree-hugging policies, my thoughts exactly.
Hmm can you say hypocrite for votes? I can say no re-election
So what does the US think?
Please, one at a time. It's unfortunately obvious what the United States says, and what the United States does. Bush is 0 for 2. He helped reject Kyoto, and he rejected funding increases for the Amazon. That we know. With all the importance shifted to hunting down terrorists like it's a sport, it's highly unlikely that anything will get done till we get someone new. Not that the president solely does anything at all, but the Republican congress will follow his lead and accomplish nothing environmentally. If you look at the website for the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, even their site will tell you that eight things are getting done, and they all involve talking, not actual action to prevention.
Visit this link for more information about the Indigenous people and maybe even a way you can help secure their home.
So What Happens If We Do Nothing?
Yeah, let me just start explaining the theoretical tragedies that accompany not taking care of the most important biospheres on the planet. What's the most obvious common sense consequence? The inability of the atmosphere to produce enough oxygen for living things to maintain homeostasis throughout the Earth. That explanation is all me, no source needed. And although the Greenhouse effect isn't a physically proven law, all scientists generally accept the fact that "Greenhouse Gases" are contributing to the overall warming up of the Earth. Oh gee, no more winter, that doesn't sound bad. Wrong answer, enjoy the snow while it's here. Why? Well first of all, it's predicted that the Earth's temperature will rise five degrees by sometime in the middle of this century. That will cause an extremely unstable atmosphere causing long droughts, and long wet seasons, but more importantly, the ice caps will begin to melt ("Greenhouse Effect"..). That will raise the Earth's water level, and later on, the Earth will become a bad Dennis Hopper movie. ("Waterworld" for those who haven't seen it.) But that's not all. By sitting here reading this informative piece, acres of land have been cut down, animal species have died off, and possible cures for deadly diseases have been lost because of the deforestation that has taken place. Not to mention already that if we say goodbye to our rainforests, we also say goodbye to 90 percent of all primates on the planet and over 50 percent of all known species, so there's diversity for you ("Case Studies"..).
Nature Oriented Groups
Quite possibly the largest environmentalist group, with over 2.5 million members. They've been known to irritate ignorant countries with their boats.
The World Wildlife Fund has been doing it for 36 years, and believe in protecting wildlife and their wild lands, check 'em out.
Can't get much more simple than that. The Nature Conservancy is the largest private international conservation group, found in 1951.
The Rainforest Action Network uses non-violent protest and education to stand up for what they believe in. They're more of a personal group.
I don't think something as important as the rainforest should have a conclusion. This project has motivated me to take whatever steps humanly possible I can to better our home, Earth. if informing wasn't enough, I'll see if I can get in touch with one of these groups to do what I can. In the near future, I'll have a link at the top with current rainforest news collected from various sources to keep people informed so we all know where we stand.
Bibliography For Paraphrased Material
Barthem, Dr. Ricardo. Brazil. 1995. 20 Mar 2002.
Bugge, Axel. "Destruction of Amazon Jungle Hits 5 Year High." Planetark.com. 16 May 2001.
20 Mar. 2002.
Can Deforestation Be Stopped? 20 Mar 2002.
Case Studies of Natural and Anthropogenic Environmental Changes. 20 Mar 2002.
Cockburn, Alexander. Hecht, Juliana. The Fate of The Forest. London: Verso, 1989.
Environmental Advocacy Organizations. 20 Mar 2002.
Fried and Schwartzman. "RainForest Fires." SD Earth Times. Feb 1998. 20 Mar 2002.
Global Futures Foundation. 20 Mar 2002.
Greenhouse Effect. 20 Mar 2000 <www.crystallinks.com/greenhouseffect.html>
Joint Statement On the United States-Brazil Common Agenda foe the Environment. 20 Mar 2002.
2 pgs. <www.brasilemb.org/environment/EnvAgenda.htm>
Juhasz, Antonia. The World Bank:Global Forest Threat. 20 Mar 2002.
Kornblut, Debbie. "Bush Backs off Spending $100m a year on forests." Boston Globe.
10 April 2001. 20 Mar 2002. <forests.org/recent/2001/bubaoffs.html>
Kruizinga, Angelica. Bahia, Brazil. 4 Apr 2000. 20 Mar 2002.
"Managing Brazil's Rainforests." Forest Conservation news Today. 10 May 2001
Image Use Documentation
(In Order Appearing On Page)
Brazil Map. <www.fao.org/forestry/fo/country/img/samer-e.gif>
Cockburn, Alexander. Hecht, Juliana. The Fate of The Forest. London: Verso,1989. 2 images,
pgs. 75 + 76.
Terminator Poster. <www.stud.ifi.uio.no/~haakonhj/Terminator/index.cgi>
Ronald Reagan. <www.wacsf.org/Images/Reagan.jpg>
George Bush. <www.cnn.com/.../bush.100/images/cut.row2.col4.bush.pic.jpg>
World Bank Hat. <www.cnn.com/2000/US/04/15/world.bank.inf/no.inf.jpg>
Waterworld Poster. <www.hundland.com/posters/w/Waterworld.jpg>
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