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The Suicide Planet

by Tom Skiens (AKA, 'Foxtrot')

The human race is blessed to have landed on a planet filled with so much generous abundance. We greedily extract the earths resources without limits and deposit the poison waste in her lap. We would poison the mother of our existance without so much as a How-D-do. Like a mother, she will never stop giving. Like the soul bound on suicide, she will continue to give until she dies, or we do.

A map of the shrinking rain forests in the Brazilian Amazon shows us just how fast the Brazilian rain forests are dissappearing. The world's rainforests are living treasure chests. They're home to an amazing biodiversity and are rich in natural resources, foods, and medicines. Sadly, deforestation continues to take a huge toll on rainforests around the world. On average, about 1.5 acres of precious rainforest are lost every second of every day. It's possible the forests may be gone completely within forty years if the destruction keeps at its current rate. What are the riches found within these beautiful forests? If they're so valuable, why are they still being cut down? What can be done to save them?

A better way of getting a handle on this question is to look at trends over time. And here the news of recent years has offered a glimmer of hope (see figure, right). Estimated annual deforestation figures for the Brazilian Amazon reveal a marked drop in the rate of forest loss over the past three years. After reaching a peak of more than 27,000 square kilometers in 2004, it fell to 'only' 11,000 square kilometers lost between August 1, 2006 and August 1, 2007, the period used for these purposes in the release of satellite-derived data for year-to-year comparisons.

Washington, D.C.- Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon may be on the rise, according to high-resolution images released by an agency of the Brazilian government. The images suggest an end to a widely hailed three-year decline in the rate of deforestation and have spurred a public controversy among high-level Brazilian officials, writes Tim Hirsch, author of 'The Incredible Shrinking Amazon Rainforest' in the May/June 2008 issue of World Watch magazine.

Deforestation accounts for approximately one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for significant species loss worldwide. Recent anti-deforestation measures under the administration of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have led to a marked drop in the rate of forest loss over the past three years.

Rain Forest Facts

We are losing Earth's greatest biological treasures just as we are beginning to appreciate their true value. Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.

One and one-half acres of rainforest are lost every second with tragic consequences for both developing and industrial countries. Rainforests are being destroyed because the value of rainforest land is perceived as only the value of its timber by short-sighted governments, multi-national logging companies, and land owners. Nearly half of the world's species of plants, animals and microorganisms will be destroyed or severely threatened over the next quarter century due to rainforest deforestation.

Experts estimates that we are losing 137 plant, 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 do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases. Currently, 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. While 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients, less that 1% of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists.

Most rainforests are cleared by chainsaws, bulldozers and fires for its timber value and then are followed by farming and ranching operations, even by world giants like Mitsubishi Corporation, Georgia Pacific, Texaco and Unocal. There were an estimated ten million Indians living in the Amazonian Rainforest five centuries ago. Today there are less than 200,000.

In Brazil alone, European colonists have destroyed more than 90 indigenous tribes since the 1900's. With them have gone centuries of accumulated knowledge of the medicinal value of rainforest species. As their homelands continue to be destroyed by deforestation, rainforest peoples are also disappearing.

The people and traditions are dying with the forest. Here a small tribe 'protected' by our hotel. In this way they can keep on living on the forest as they ancestors did, passing on their culture to their beautiful children. Most medicine men and shamans remaining in the Rainforests today are 70 years old or more. Each time a rainforest medicine man dies, it is as if a library has burned down. When a medicine man dies without passing his arts on to the next generation, the tribe and the world loses thousands of years of irreplaceable knowledge about medicinal plants.

Droughts throughout Africa assure starvation. Refugees overwhelm poorly supplied camps lacking even the basic necessities and filled with disease. And it is the weak who shall suffer the greatest ...

The World Waits ... a planet divided over the question of global warming, and tears of dust.

The tears which must follow the dust,
Shall be the liguid for a powerful rust
That melts down the steel of giants
And builds greenhouses full of clients

When the corporations and corrupt politicians finish harvesting the rain forest they will leave behind death--death of life, of water, of soil and air.

Tree Death and Forest Decline
by Paul Donahue

The great ice storm of January 1998 was the worst disaster Maine has seen in a long time. However, while we humans suffered greatly from the storm, with more than 20 lives lost, billions of dollars of damage done throughout the region, and loss of electrical power for as long as two weeks for some people, by far the greatest and most enduring effect of the storm is the extensive damage done to our trees and forests. Forest damage from the ice storm was widespread in Maine, New Hampshire, New Brunswick and Quebec.

Defoliants were successfully used in Vietnam ...

Killing the past and the future.

Related Links & Resources:
Write the UN
World Food Program
WHO (World Health Organization)
Human Trafficking
US Dept of Health and Human Resources - campaign to rescue and restore victims of human trafficking

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