Although the American media is congested with stories of brutal murders in the Middle East, and the cruelty faced by North Koreans under Communism, our news fails to grasp the far more dangerous threat to the United States that is silently lurking in the background. While we live our lives, we are oblivious to the impending doom that will soon come if deforestation continues in the Amazon. If we lose the Amazon, not only will some of the most endangered animals in the world lose their home and some 1.6 billion people will not be provided for, but we will also lose control over the Earth’s climate. Time after time, history has shown that not only humans are affected by our deadly mistakes – but so are the animals. According to BirdLife International, nearly 100 species of bird living in the Amazon are at a greatly increased risk of extinction.
However, birds are one of a vast number of endangered species that reside in the Amazon. The Amazon is full of biodiversity, hosting animals like jaguars, Amazon River dolphins, poison dart frogs, black spider monkeys, and 50 to 60 million other species. These are animals that simply can’t be found anywhere else – and won’t be, if the Amazon continues to be destroyed. Although the Amazon provides for animals, it also provides for nearly 1.6 billion people.
The rainforest provides food, fresh water, clothing, and traditional medicine, as well as a home to 60 million indigenous people. Without the Amazon, these people will all lose fundamental resources, and their way of life. While maybe some choose not to care because they do not believe they are in danger, they do not know how horribly wrong they are. Every person of all nationalities, genders, and economic backgrounds is at risk. If humans continue to destroy the rainforest, 90 to 140 billion metric tons of carbon will be released into our atmosphere, having catastrophic effects on our world. The vital oxygen that the rainforest gives to us will be gone forever.
Many scientists agree that this could lead to the Earth becoming uninhabitable – not just for the animals – but for us too. Deforestation in the Amazon may not make the headlines like ISIS or Vladimir Putin, but that does not make the threat it provides any less real or serious. Due to deforestation, we are experiencing the largest mass extinction in 65 million years, at a much faster rate, we are threatening the livelihood of 1.6 billion people, as well as putting our planet in grave and immediate danger. According to Greenpeace, the leading independent campaigning organization, 15% of the Amazon has already been destroyed. If this rate of destruction continues, that number will jump to 50% within 20 years.
In less than 50 years, the Amazon rainforest will be gone completely, and we may follow soon after that. Instead of praying that a terrorist doesn’t destroy our country, we need to be worried that we do not destroy ourselves.