We all have a duty to protect the earth. We are merely the current custodians of the planet, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that we’re protecting it as best we can. We have to ensure that future generations don’t have to pay for our mistakes. While some areas of the earth may rebound if we can get our act together, there are some that, once they’re gone, will be lost forever.
The rainforests are one such example. They are complex ecosystems that have taken millions of years to develop, yet we’re in the process of destroying them in a matter of a few generations, a comparative blink of an eye. While the overwhelming majority of us are not actively harming the rainforests in a direct way, we may be propping up their destruction through our spending habits and lifestyle. Unsustainable culture has a devastating impact on the world’s rainforests.
What Affects the Rainforests?
To understand why rainforests are being destroyed, we need to take a look at how they’re economically valuable to private corporations.
One of the largest contributors to the destruction of the rainforest is logging. This is the process of cutting down trees in order to use their wood for profit. Rainforests, of course, have an abundance of trees, and many of them are extremely valuable. For example, mahogany and teak. Two of the biggest problems with logging are: A. unsustainability, and B. wastefulness. When one large tree is logged for its wood, the collapse usually destroys between 15 and 20 smaller trees. Once the land has been cleared, it is near impossible for it to return to it's former glory.
We’re already well aware of the damage that meat production has on the natural world; it is a deeply unsustainable practice. This is as true for the rainforest as it is for factory-farmed animals, which require large amounts of water during their lifecycle. In the rainforest, areas are destroyed so that they can be used for cattle ranching. Somewhere in the region of 80% of cleared rainforest is then handed over to private corporations for cattle ranching. The process has already destroyed an area that can’t be brought back, and then the process of producing meat has even more negative impacts on the natural world.
Rainforest land isn’t just cleared for cattle. It’s also used for unsustainable agriculture purposes. Much of the fruits, soya, palm oil, tea and coffee that are supplied to the earth come from cleared rainforest land. You might think that a small loss of rainforest is a fair trade to feed the earth, but this is not true. The issue with farming on cleared land is that the soil deteriorates after a few years, which means the farming process has to move onto another area. This leads to even more deforestation.
Because rainforests have historically been left untouched, they contain a host of valuable resources that can be exploited. There’s a large global demand for certain minerals and metals that are found in the ground beneath the rainforest. This list includes: copper, gold, aluminium, and diamonds. In order for companies to extract these resources, the rainforest has to be cut down.
Reliance on Oil
The world is already well aware that we have to shift away from our dependence on oil. Alas, oil companies have a substantial amount of power, and they’re not in the business of bypassing profit when it’s possible. Because the rainforest is untouched, it’s suspected that there may be tons of valuable oil lying underneath. The only way to find out is to clear the rainforest and investigate the land underneath. Even if there isn’t any oil, the damage will already be done. Rainforests are also regularly destroyed when there’s a need for an oil pipeline.
Sometimes, a practice might seem sustainable on the surface, but ultimately turn out to be unsustainable. Take electricity dams, for instance. This is considered a way to produce renewable electricity, and in the right conditions, it is. But not in the rainforest, which very often floods because the water has nowhere else to go. As a result, the water can become too acidic, which harms the turbines. Consequently, electricity dams in rainforest areas only have a short lifespan.
Why conservation is much more urgent than reforestation
There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the potential of planting trees. While this approach will have some effect, and isn’t a terrible idea, scientists are skeptical about the amount of good it can do in the race to fight climate change. And there’s another matter to consider, too: planting new forests won’t save the million of species that will go extinct if the rainforests are destroyed. It makes a lot more sense to focus the energy on preventing deforestation, which is one of the core reasons for the problem in the first place, rather than looking at less effective solutions.
What can you do?
It can sometimes feel like we’re powerless in our quest to save the rainforest, especially when the damage is being conducted by large companies in other parts of the world. But this isn’t the case. The rainforest is being harmed because of the global demand of the products that rely on its resources for production. If that demand fell, then so would deforestation. As such, it’s important that you’re investigating where the products you buy come from. If they were produced in or from the rainforest, or contain an ingredient, such as palm oil, that drives deforestation, then you should buy a more sustainable alternative.
You can also help by supporting organizations that protect the environment, like us! As a social enterprise, we're committed to using our business as a way to channel support into protecting the rainforest through the sale of our OMA bracelet (and various other items.) Through our Buy One Save an Acre® program, every item sold funds the protection of an entire ACRE of of rainforest and the planting of a tree in the areas that truly need it the most right now.