Nearly every tree in the park next to my apartment building snapped in half in the ice storm. That means this spring and summer, when I’m hanging out in my study with a bay window right at canopy height, I won’t hear the rustle of leaves, or watch my cats cackling at all the birds that used to populate the branches. I’ll have to draw the blinds at night. But this is not as big of a deal as so many of the other losses people have faced, of course.
And it’s certainly not as big a deal as what indigenous peoples of the Amazon are facing. Deforestation rates have risen there, and so much of this living, breathing jungle has already disappeared. The Environmental News Service has this story about a recent protest and call to action to save the Amazon. More than a thousand people created a human banner, and this picture (courtesy of the Rain forest Action Network) shows their results. It reads “Save the Amazon” in Portuguese.
I’ve been to the Amazon, sailed up a tributary in northeastern Ecuador. It’s the greenest place I’ve ever been, and loud with life. We need it, though, not simply for its beauty, or the home it provides to what indigenous groups remain, but for the carbon it stores (about 10% of the all the stores in the world’s ecosystems) and the biodiversity it hosts. Some sources predict that if deforestation continues at the current rate, in 20 years, about 40% of the Amazon will be lost.