Write and Respond 1 Kaitlyn Zirrith

The Real Effects of Rainforest Deforestation

 

It is no secret that billions of trees are being destroyed every year due to wildfires, environmental disasters, and more, all tying back to the destructive and irresponsible actions of humans. The area that I believe is being affected the most from these actions are the glorious, ancient and diverse  tropical rainforests located in South America. The rain forests have been ripped apart over decades for various reasons such as oil mining, and the effects are globally changing temperatures, furthering the extinction of species, creating devastating storms that kill millions of people from their effects, etc. The future effects of this activity will change the world as it is known today with the things that people today take for granted will be gone forever.The current situation of rainforest deforestation in South America is worsening to an extreme level and the results of the actions of humans will continue to be catastrophic.

One of the most critical problems that rainforest deforestation creates is the loss of oxygen that is generated by plants in the rainforests around the world. Rainforests make up about 20% of the oxygen in the world (Sleight). This is a significantly large amount of the overall oxygen produced and without the 20%, everything on the planet would be affected. Especially with exponentially increasing population rate of the planet currently, the struggle to produce enough oxygen to support the mass of people will be impossible if the amount of deforestation does not decrease. The destruction of these forests not only decreases the amount of oxygen produced, but also the amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed by plants (Sleight). Through the process of photosynthesis, plants absorb the carbon dioxide that humans produce from breathing, driving, and the use of other machines, into their leaves where it is transformed into oxygen to then be released and used by humans. When there is less plants on the planet, carbon dioxide will not be filtered by the plants at the same rate as it did when there was a larger amount of vegetation growing (WWF Global). A result of this is that the carbon dioxide does not simply disappear if it is not absorbed by plants; it is released into the atmosphere. This extreme inflow of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the ultimate reason for the holes and gaps that now exist in the atmosphere of Earth. The effects that come from these gaps is what is known as the biggest threat to our species and every species around the world because of  its limitless consequences on the global environment; it is global warming.

Global warming is a major worldwide problem today that affects every nation because of things such as rainforest deforestation. One of the effects of global warming is overall climate change. Climate change is the heating of the Earth’s temperatures as a result of the holes in the atmosphere, which are explained in the previous paragraph. Because of the holes in the atmosphere, the Earth has less protection from the sun’s harmful and intense UV rays that are aimed at the Earth. Without this extra layer of protection in the atmosphere, the temperatures in some areas of the Earth are higher than they have ever been. This affects the plant life, animal life, and human life that live in those areas by things such as increased evaporation of drinking water, melting of polar ice caps, and more. With the continued destruction of forests and rainforests, climate change [and its effects] will increase tremendously. (WWF Global). The accumulation of climate change is not just contributed to by the destroying of forests, but also what is then done with the land that once was rainforest. As the trees are cleared, cattle ranches often times take over the areas which contributes to the climate change situation even more. (WWF Global). Cattle produce an extreme amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere through their feces and it has been connected that large cattle farms have the same effect on the atmosphere as do cars, trucks, boats, and factories that produce carbon dioxide. The land that was once rainforest is also used for things such as mining and other human actions that are harmful to the environment. Although people have paid to have the right to own their land and do whatever they please with it, what they choose to do can literally cause devastating problems for people in another part of the world. Governments around the planet have tried to come up with resolutions to the struggle over the right to own land and the responsibility to the well being of the planet for decades, but it is almost impossible to find a solution. Another way that rainforest deforestation in South America even further increases global warming is that without forests, the land on Earth would radiate and reflect the heat from the sun back into the air, furthering global warming around the world. (Curely). The more holes that are created in the atmosphere, the harsher the rays will be on the Earth’s surface, creating more intense effects to all living organisms on the planet and intense reflections of the sun’s rays off the Earth and back into the atmosphere to continue the cycle of global warming. The overall consequences of global warming affect every living organism, but the group that is being effected the most currently are the animals.

Every biome and every species of animal is affected in some way by either rainforest deforestation, global warming, or both. But what most people do not know is that rainforests and  all forests support 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial animals (Curely). Humans have an interdependent relationship with the animals on this planet, so a problem that would cause a great deal of extinctions in 80% of terrestrial animals would impact the lives of humans greatly and impact the world that humans live in. One of the problems that could cause a great deal of extinctions is rainforest deforestation. Rainforests lower the temperature on land from 4-7%, which does not seem like a lot but it is the difference between life and death from some organisms (Curely). Animals pick an environment to live in based on the specific things that they need, such as, rainfall amounts, high or low temperatures, food availability, amount of sunlight, etc. When the environment that thousands of organisms have lived in for years, full of tall trees, humid weather and shady places, becomes practically a desert overnight, it is impossible for them to adapt. Destroying these ecosystems could cause thousands species of trees and animals and insects to go extinct (Sleight). If the extinction of even a quarter of the species affected occurs, planet Earth will be in serious trouble as countless of food chains are disrupted and environmental disasters occur more frequently than ever.

The extreme deforestation that is occurring in South America is having an irreversible impact on not only the areas around it, but throughout the entire world. It decreases the amount of oxygen being produced and absorbs less of the carbon dioxide that humans produce which contributes to the deterioration of the ozone layer. Another effect is the destruction of habitats for the billions of organisms living on this planet which then ultimately leads to the extinction of the animals that rely on the rainforest biome to survive. Also, as the forests are being torn down, the area then becomes occupied with establishments such as buildings that release a large amount of toxins into the air or cattle farms which truly leave a negative result in the global warming situation. The destruction of rainforests in South America also cause the overall temperature of the Earth to increase. By allowing this to happen, the heat that is radiated from the sun would reflect back into the atmosphere instead of being absorbed by the trees and environment, increasing global warming even further.

How much oxygen is lost each year from the destruction of rainforests each year? There are approximately 5.5 billion trees cut down each year around the world. Each tree produces about 260 pounds of oxygen each year. If the amount of trees cut down increases each year by ten percent, how much oxygen will be lost in the year 2018, one year from now?

 

I will answer this question by using the unit factor method. I will split up the fractions into 5.5 billion trees,  260 pounds of oxygen, 1 tree, etc, and multiply.

The equation will be set up as:

5.5 Billion trees  x  \[\frac{ 260 \text{ lbs of oxygen}}{1 \text{ tree}}\] = \( 1.5 \times 10^{12} \)   oxygen lost in 2017

Then I will multiply \(1.5 \times 10^{12} \) by 1.1 to calculate ten percent which will account for the increase in oxygen production loss. 

\(1.5 \times 10^{12} \times 1.1\) = \( 1.7 \times 10^{11} \)

 

 

 

Bibliography

Sleight, Ken. “When the Rainforest Gets Chopped Down, So Does Our Oxygen.” Ecopedia, Ecopedia, 2 May 2013, www.ecopedia.com/environment/when-rainforest-gets-chopped-down-so-does-our-oxygen/.

 

“Why Is the Amazon Rainforest Important?” WWF, WWF Global, www.ecopedia.com/environment/when-rainforest-gets-chopped-down-so-does-our-oxygen/.

Curely, Jeri. “How Does Deforestation Affect the Air?” Sciencing, Sciencing, 25 Apr. 2017, sciencing.com/deforestation-affect-air-10632.html.

 

 

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1 Response to Write and Respond 1 Kaitlyn Zirrith

  1. jal6318 says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed your “Write and Respond 1” essay. I have always been emotionally impacted by the horrific actions taken place in the Amazonian Rain forests. I feel that it isn’t portrayed enough by the media or many people in general. Your math question and equation, I found to be quite intriguing. I had never thought of a question like that regarding the deforestation. It opened my eyes up to different questions surrounding that topic, such as, how much oxygen will be left by the year 2050?

    I also understand that places in Europe, such as Ethiopia, are no stranger to the mass deforestation. How much do you think a combination of the Amazon Rain forest and the Ethiopian forests impact the reduction of oxygen? Although the Rain Forest is leading in mass deforestation, Europe is not far behind.

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