What Will The World Look Like When The Rainforests Disappear?

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Since the start of the 20th century, roughly half of the world’s rainforests have been wiped out. And by the end of the 21st century, rainforests may go extinct altogether. You may think it’s just a few plants and animals that’ll suffer, but modern global society relies on rainforests more than you might realize. The loss of this dense biodiversity could lead to sickness, poverty, even war. So, what would a post-rainforest world look like? Well, first it is important to understand why the rainforest is disappearing. Globally, over the last 40 years, an area possibly the size of Europe has been cleared and repurposed for commercial use. In some cases the land is replanted with trees that produce rubber or palm oil, in other cases it is used as grazing land for cattle, or torn down for urban development. And if nothing is done, we may ultimately see rainforests gone altogether, and along with them, crucial benefits. Without rainforests, some estimate that the basis for up to a quarter of modern medicine would be lost, with thousands of medical compounds derived from plants. For example, the rosy periwinkle, which is naturally endemic only to Madagascar, produces two anti-tumor drugs used to fight leukemia and Hodgkin's Disease.

Chemicals synthesized as a result of this plant contribute to an estimated $160 million dollars per year and the rainforest plant-drug market in total has been estimated at roughly $150 billion dollars.. Many poor communities rely on rainforest plant life for medicine, as prescription medication and derivatives are completely unaffordable for large portions of the world’s population. The World Health Organization estimates that roughly 80% of Africa’s population uses traditional, herbal medicine as part of their primary health care, while in China, up to half of all medicine consumed are herbal remedies. Besides a medicinal outlook, the lack of vegetation could mean a rapid rise in climate change. Rainforests are known as “carbon sinks”, which means that they consume carbon dioxide, clearing it from the atmosphere. Studies show that roughly 40% of manmade Co2 is absorbed by forests. As carbon dioxide levels rise and rainforest acreage falls, the subsequent change in climate can contribute to severe droughts, as well as rising sea levels.

This is a bigger problem than it may seem, as climate change plays a huge role in geopolitics. Wars over resources are devastating, and demand for farming land continues to outstrip its supply. In 2014 in northern Honduras, US-backed security forces were implicated in the murder and intimidation of local farmers involved in disputes over palm oil. More than 100 people have already been killed over the disputes. In other parts of the world, entire indigenous tribes are being killed and displaced in favor of commercial logging and razing. But stopping this deforestation may not end up solving the larger problem. Even when ignoring financial gain by businesses which exploit these natural resources, many people in developing countries rely on the exploitation to survive. For example, palm oil employs millions of farmers, and the industry plays an important role in reducing poverty. According to one NGO on Sustainable Palm Oil, as many as 4.5 million people in Indonesia and Malaysia work in its production.

And simply switching to another method of production could potentially be even worse for the environment. Alternative vegetable oils, like sunflower, soybean, and rapeseed produce about 4 to 10 times less oil per acre, so to meet demand, even more land would have to be destroyed. We all know rainforests are vital, but their direct impacts in day-to-day health, global stability, and the condition of the world’s atmosphere are regularly understated. In the end, a world without rainforests is much more devastating than we might realize, and much harder to avoid than we might expect. If you’re an entrepreneur, innovator, or building a small business, DOMAIN DOT COM is the place to go when that next great idea hits you. No domain extension will help tell your story like a DOT COM or DOT NET domain name.

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