Relationship Between Brazilian Amazon Deforestation and Well-Being of Canadians Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:25:15
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Category: Deforestation

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The large-scale deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has a negative effect on the well-being of Canada. We take this argument on the context that the earth is an ecosystem and thus all things, whether living (biotic) or nonliving (abiotic), are interconnected. As far as the law of nature is concerned, it is unrealistic to consider environmental issues in developing countries (such as Amazon rainforest deforestation) to be a separate matter not related at all to the welfare of Canadians and Canada as a whole.

In order to justify the argument, there is a need to describe the geographic characteristics of Canada and see how its vast territories that include a huge portion of the Arctic is being affected by climate change, which in turn is being triggered by global warming. Global Warming and Climate Change Global warming and climate change are related but should not be used interchangeably. Global warming is the rise in global temperatures due to an increase of heat-trapping carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

Climate change, on the other hand, is a more general term that refers to changes in many climatic factors (such as temperature and precipitation) around the world. These changes are happening at different rates and in different ways. (retrieved from www. nature. org/initiative/climate ) In simple terms, global warming is one of the phenomena that leads to climate change. The Geographic Characteristics of Canada Canada with its extremely varying topography and climate is the worlds second largest country. Its vast territory has an area of 970,610 square kilometers (sq. km. ), occupying the northern half of North American continent.

Its geography can be further described as follows: In the east, the mountainous maritime provinces have an irregular coastline on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic. The St. Lawrence plain, covering most of southern Quebec and Ontario, and the interior continental plain, covering southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan and most of Alberta, are the principal cultivable areas. They are separated by a forested plateau rising from Lakes Superior and Huron. Westward toward the Pacific, most of British Columbia, the Yukon, and part of western Alberta are covered by parallel mountain ranges, including the Rockies.

The Pacific border of the coast range is ragged with fjords and channels. The highest point in Canada is Mount Logan (19,850 ft; 6,050 m), which is in the Yukon. The two principal river systems are the Mackenzie and the St. Lawrence. The St. Lawrence, with its tributaries, is navigable for over 1,900 mi (3,058 km). (Retrieved from http://www. infoplease. com) Canada is known to contain one-seventh of the worlds freshwater. It has over 2 million lakes covering 7% of its land area. But because of the harsh climate only 12 percent of the vast territory is suitable for agriculture.

Other than the North where its above freezing for only a few months a year, most Canadian cities are within 300 kilometers (km) of the southern border where the climate is milder and the seasons are more pronounced in most parts of the year. Brazil and the Amazon Rainforest Brazil is the largest country in South America, sharing common boundaries with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador. It has about half the worlds remaining tropical rainforest in the vast Amazon basin, an area which is half the size of the continental United States. According to Miller (p.

429, 2005) this important center of biodiversity is home for about 30% of the worlds plants and animal species. Due to current worldwide efforts to mitigate global warming, the deforestation of the Amazon is a major environmental issue. Current reports indicate that between May 2000 and August 2006, Brazil lost nearly 150,000 square kilometers of forest”an area larger than Greece”and since 1970, over 600,000 sq. km. (232,000 square miles) of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed. (Retrieved May 2, 2009 from www. mongabay. com/brazil/html) But why would Brazil let the relentless destruction of the Amazon rainforest?

Aside from their economic value, forests provide natural habitats to plants and animals, preserve the biodiversity of natural ecosystems, protect watersheds through prevention of soil erosion, and indirectly prevent ocean acidification by reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide. In a report entitled Deforestation of the Amazon, Butler (2008) had said: In many tropical countries, the majority of deforestation results from the actions of poor subsistence cultivators. However, in Brazil only about one-third of recent deforestation can be linked to shifted cultivators.

Historically a large portion of deforestation in Brazil can be attributed to land clearing for pastureland by commercial and speculative interests, misguided government policies, inappropriate World Bank projects, and commercial exploitation of forest resources. Though some groups may disagree with Butlers statement, as it is the reason for the destruction of the Amazon rainforest is purely for commercial gain of a few with the possible encouragement of authorities, without any or little regard for whatever effects it will have on human beings and the environment.

Effects of Deforestation on Climate Change The presence of too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere creates greenhouse effect which is the phenomenon that warms the earth (global warming) and causes climate change. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, creating a cooling effect. Butler (2007) in another article, Could Global Deforestation Fight Climate Change cited the study conducted by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on the effect of deforestation on global warming.

Aside from absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the study discussed how trees in the tropics promote convective clouds that help to cool the earth. This study was done to shed light on an argument posed by some scientists that deforestation would be good in mitigating climate change. Said study had pointed out that only trees in the boreal forests (forests near the North Pole) would create the not-so-significant cooling effect if cut, because these trees block the capability of glaciers to reflect the suns heat back to space.

It emphasized that tropical forests (which occupy a large portion of the earth) are the ones that cool the planet by storing large amounts of carbon and producing reflective clouds, increasing surface albedo. These are the reasons why large-scale deforestation could worsen global warming, and thus some environmentalists refer to tropical forests as Earths air conditioner. The report also stated that: Globally, forests are estimated to hold around 600 gigatons of carbon. Deforestation is responsible for about 20 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

As pointed out, it is the capability of trees to store carbon and reflect harmful ultraviolet rays back to space that make deforestation a primary cause of global warming. So, it is not a matter of cutting trees and then planting more trees to replace what have been cut. Studies have showed that the rate of removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by photosynthesis decreases as trees mature and grow at a slower pace (Miller, 2005, p. 293). But nevertheless planting trees is one way to mitigate the effects of global warming.

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