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Co-Founder, Rainforest Renee
Shares Why the Rainforest   
is Important to You.     
A Gold Medal Opportunity for the Amazon Rainforest


Gold Medal


The Olympics official flag landed in Brazil, the host city for the 2016 Games last Wednesday.  With this, the publicity around Brazil is bound to increase as they revamp Rio De Janeiro to host over a million people.  In addition to this, Brazil is going to host the World Cup in 2014.   For us conservationists, it’s hoped that the publicity that comes with hosting the Olympics and the World Cup will also bring attention to the outskirts of town where destruction of the Amazon Rainforest is having a devastating effect on the world.

The Amazon is the planet’s largest remaining rainforest with more diversity and wildlife than anywhere on Earth. The Amazon Rainforest has been described as the “Lungs of our Planet” because it produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen by sequestering carbon dioxide.   Tragically, despite all the effort to stop deforestation of the Amazon, deforestation continues from logging and to make room for agriculture products like soybeans and palm oil.  In the mid 2000’s Greenpeace reported that the six football fields of the Amazon Forest were destroyed every minute. Fortunately, this has slowed but not nearly enough. Even if the deforestation of the Amazon stopped today, some rare species would still be doomed and disappear forever.  Continuing to educate and create awareness will be our only hope.  The Olympics brings the world together for a few shorts weeks to compete and the World Cup last about 4 weeks.  Could these same countries come together and bring awareness to rainforest destruction of Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest?   How about a new Olympic sport, what team can plant 1000 trees the fastest?

Amazon Rainforest


The Rainforest Saves Lives Through Medicinal Discoveries


One of the most exciting benefits the rainforest has to offer is its vast array of species also known as biodiversity.  The rainforest is host to over 50% of the world’s known plant, animal and micro organism species, including many that have helped cure major illness and disease.  In the United States 25% of prescription drugs include compounds that were discovered in the rainforest. For instance common household drugs like Aspirin were derived from extracts of willow trees found in the rainforest.  Vinblastine and vincristine, chemicals that can be taken out of the Madagascar periwinkle (now extinct), also called the vinca, produces vinca alkaloids used to treat Hodgkins lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukemia in children. This drug alone increased the chances of survival for children with leukemia from 20 percent to 80 percent.  Fortunately, it was discovered and the compounds were copied before the Madagascar periwinkle became extinct from rainforest destruction. 


Madagascar Periwinkle

Compounds from rainforest plants are also used to treat malaria, heart disease, bronchitis, hypertension, rheumatism, diabetes, muscle tension, arthritis, glaucoma, dysentery and tuberculosis, among other health problems. Many over the counter anesthetics, enzymes, hormones, laxatives, cough mixtures, antibiotics and antiseptics are derived from rainforest plants and herbs.

The most important fact, despite the rainforest being host to over 50% of the world’s known species, less the 1% of the rainforest has been studied for medicinal purposes. All the drugs mentioned were discovered with little research.  Imagine what could be discovered if we committed to aggressive research.  How many lives could be saved or given a chance at a better life?

Rainforests Affect Your Milk Price!


Global warming is definitely a topic for this continuing blog series of why the rainforest is important to you but I was saving it until we could get through the basics.  However, one cannot overlook that rising food prices caused by the most extensive drought in the U.S. Midwest in five decades is making headlines between the Olympics and the November election so I thought it important to begin to discuss how the rainforest affects local milk and other produce prices.In a recent trip to the grocery store to get milk, I saw sign on the refrigerator stating that “due to the drought crisis the store was temporarily out of milk.”  To say that this is a bit concerning when you young ones at home is an understatement.   The drought is so serious that it’s a worldwide threat and the World Bank is stepping into help governments deal with the food shortages and increase in grain prices.  Farmers lively hoods are being significantly affected and we are experiencing increased costs in eggs, fruits and vegetables, milk and even meat.  See this CCN article release earlier today entitled Get Ready to Pay More For Your Steak!

The drought (no rain and extensive heat) is caused by global warming and global warming is caused by rainforest destruction. The rainforest affects us directly and indirectly as we’ll all see, as food prices continue to rise.  The core of this significant drought is due to the past 50 years of rainforest destruction.  Something to consider the next time you walk into the market.   

 

The Most Biodiverse Place on Earth

Insect Biodiversity


Disney World is known to be the happiest place on Earth but do you know where the most biodiverse place on Earth is?

 

A term that is not heard enough is biodiversity, pronounced (bio-di-ver-si-ty).  Biodiversity is short for biological diversity and simply means the diversity, or variety, of plants and animals and other living things in a particular area or region.  Biodiversity also means the number, or abundance of different species living within a particular region.


Biodiversity is important because everything that lives in an ecosystem, including humans is dependent on one another like strands holding together a web.  Each species of vegetation and every animal in the world have a place on the earth and play a vital role in the circle of life. Plant, animal, and insect species interact and depend upon one another for what each offers, such as food, shelter, oxygen, and soil enrichment.


Tropical rainforests have more biodiversity than any forest on earth.  More than 50% of the world's estimated 10 million species of plants, animals and insects live in the tropical rainforests.   This statement alone should stop all people in their track to stop rainforest destruction but it doesn’t.  In fact, I am often asked, what are you protecting something so far away when people in our own community need help.  Try this statistic.  A 25-acre plot of rainforest in Borneo may contain more than 700 species of trees - a number equal to the total tree diversity of North America. That’s 25 acres compared to 6,050,697,738 acres!!!  

Experts estimate that we are losing over 140 plants, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation. That equates to 50,000 species a year. As the rainforest species disappear, so does the web of life.  In addition, many possible cures for life-threatening diseases are gone, never to be discovered.

Why is the rainforest important to you? The loss of tropical rainforests has a profound and devastating impact on the world because rainforests contain so much biodiversity.


 

FRESH AIR


Fresh Air
I woke this morning to a beautiful sunrise; pink, yellow and white against a blue sky and birds singing a song. Even the sun was reflecting off the little town in the distance below.  Everything is fresh.  We’ve all had these beautiful mornings and I hope you share in one again soon.

I am going to also ask that you take another moment and think back to high school science class and photosynthesis. By the way, let me go on record to say, I am not a scientist, not a climate change expert or even an ecologist or biologist.   I simply have a great passion for the environment, appreciate all its resources and want to save the planet for future generations.

Back to Science 101. 

Fresh air or oxygen is something that we all need to survive. It’s produced by plants and TREES, TREES, and did I say, TREES. As trees grow they sequester carbon from the air and create clean air for us to breathe.   Trees and plants in the rainforest sequester more carbon than anywhere else in the world, even if that carbon dioxide is produce thousands of miles away. 
 
Carbon dioxide produced by cars and factories rises into the atmosphere and is blown.  If carbon dioxide stayed close to us, we would live in pure smog every day.  There are countries today where people have to wear masks just to breathe because of the large about of gases put off by production and vehicles. 

For those that have never visited the rainforest, the rainforest is dense with many layers of trees, plants and animals, each doing their job.  As a result, rainforests sequester more carbon than an average forest because of the sheer destiny and because of the ongoing turn-over of growth.  Trees that reproduce naturally or that are planted in tropical regions, close to the equator grow faster than those trees further away from the equator.  Additionally, it is important to note that smaller saplings sequester more carbon than older larger trees because their growing.  Have you ever wished you had the energy of a 5 year-old; well a young tree has energy much like that!   They are more active and collect greater amounts of carbon dioxide.
So, why are we destroying the rainforest for rare wood and agriculture and not planting trees in the equator regions of the world? Maybe you can comment. Seems logical to me but it’s not as easy as it sounds. 

To summarize today’s science 101 lesson,  the rainforest is important to us because it sequesters more carbon dioxide (pollution) than anywhere in the world, which in turn produces clean air all over the world – giving us beautiful days.  

Why is the Rainforest Important to You?


Smog, dying fish, farming, San Diego weather, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, cancer, rising food prices, the softness in your clothes, headaches and your Prius (if you have one) – what do all these things have in common?  Most people would say, “Nothing.”   Up to a couple years ago, I would have been one of the majorities and said, “Nothing,” also. Well, the fact is that tropical rainforest in countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Costa Rica touch each one of the things I mentioned above and effect people no matter where they are located in the world, including those people in California, Alaska, Idaho, or Nebraska.  


The world is losing almost 100,000 acres of rainforest a day.  Just 50 years ago rainforests accounted for 14 percent of the Earth’s land surface, today the rainforest covers only 6 percent of the Earth total land surface.  Scientist say that “at the current rate of destruction the remaining 6 percent of the Earth’s rainforest will be gone by the year 2050,” in our lifetime.  Without the rainforest, oceans will continue to heat up and everything in it will be destroyed.  Like lifelong partners, rainforests and oceans help maintain the planet and we need them to survive.  More importantly, future generations need them to survive.


This blog is dedicated to the rainforests and oceans and the people that protect them.  I hope to provide you with information that allows you to understand why rainforest thousands and thousands of miles away impact everyone's life, no matter where you are. We'll start by taking a look at why protecting the rainforest is important in a series of blogs and then we're wide open to discuss current issues, reports from the field and anything else that's green or blue.  Until then, protect the planet by (you know it!) recycling, reusing and reducing!