The purpose of this paper is to discuss the deforestation of the Amazon rain
forest. This discussion emphasizes the social and geographic background, the impact of deforestation on the Amazon's people and resources, and the causes as well as some proposed solutions of the problem.
The Amazon rain forest is so vast it can be seen from the space shuttle. Will this statement be true ten years from now? The logs that are taken from the rain forest are money for today and the wasteland of tomorrow. Virtually all tropical rain forests may vanish in the next twenty-five years. (Richter) With the extinction of the forest will come the extinction of much of the world's most remarkable wildlife. In an editorial statement, The Economist magazine noted that the Amazon rain forest in Brazil contains
. . . nearly one third of all the worlds' tropical forest-and a
greater variety of plants than any other country. The Amazon
has more types of fish than in all the rivers of Europe; the trees
are home to more species of birds than in all the forests of
North America. ("The Month Amazonian Burns" 15)
The resources of the Amazon do not stop with the trees and animal life, for the plant life must also be included. Drugs derived from plants native to rain forest have been successfully used in the treatment of Hodgkin's disease, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, as an aid in surgery, for the production of sex hormones and the birth-control pill. About one-third of the world's medicines currently are derived from tropical plants. They are expected to contribute far more in the future, up to and including the possibility of life saving compounds
for cancer and/or AIDS. (Hope Reaches the Amazon) However, perhaps the greatest resource of the Amazon rain forest is its contribution to the world's oxygen supply. Indeed, the rain forest is so massive that it is estimated that deforestation, which entails bur...