November 5, 2012
It would be foolish to label the current rate of planetary deforestation as merely “frightening”. A detailed study regarding this truly terrifying issue should, in fact, stop the heart of every cognizant human being living on the planet, at least for a moment.
Oddly enough, although we lose one and one-half square acres of rain forest every second, which is equal to ninety square acres of lost rain forest, each and every minute, or five-thousand four-hundred square acres per hour, most of the people that I speak with regarding the subject, seem to remain oblivious to what said information represents for humanity.
To visualize this in another way, each and every day, an area of rain forest which could more than cover every borough of New York City, is simply wiped clean from the face of the Earth. Placing this into proper perspective, one could envision that within a few weeks, the lost square mileage of global rain forest would likely be capable of covering one of the smallest of the United States and in a few months, perhaps a small country.
Within a few years to a half-decade, the amount of rain forest cover lost, would easily be capable of blanketing every square inch of a mid-sized nation like Greece or Bulgaria and one full decade from now, roughly one-quarter of all the remaining rain forests on the planet will likely be gone.
What baffles me the most regarding this issue, is the overwhelming general human “nonchalance” toward the dry sobering statistics and an inability to understand how dire the situation is. What more needs to be stated in order to rouse a sense of global urgency than science estimating that within forty years time, there will not be a shred of rain forest left on the planet?
When presenting this information, we will sometimes endure the most foolish of excuses or even a viral spouting of rage against the message, in disbelief of the factual statistics. One such “feel-good” excuse accuses the messenger of possessing a certain high level of audacity to believe that we, as humans, have the ability to impact the Earth.
In response to such a nonsensical outburst, I generally state that wiping every scrap of rain forest clean in roughly one half-century, whilst sending over one-hundred and thirty known plant/animal species to extinction each day during that time frame, mainly due to said deforestation, is most certainly the very definition of fundamentally devastating, as well as truly impacting the face of all life on the planet. As a collective species, we alone, are the cause for the disappearance of half of the Earth’s rain forests and we have increased nature’s once balanced extinction rate by ten-thousand percent.
I am often forced to wonder which type of proverbial “slap in the face” is required in order for someone to realize that it is more than simply “audacious” for humans to generate baseless and ill-informed excuses or outbursts of denial regarding the devastation they inflict upon their own posterity? Such an apathetic reaction in regard to humanity’s future is absolutely ludicrous.
We should, at the very least, expect that the majority of individuals, upon learning about such an ongoing environmental catastrophe, would wish to know what the main underlying cause for said ecologic devastation was. This is sometimes the case, until they learn that in order to halt the majority of current planetary deforestation, they would have to opt out of that next hamburger with cheese and move toward a vegan’s diet.
What many global citizens have absolutely no desire to hear is that according to most credible sources, agriculture is by far, the main cause for all planetary deforestation. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC) secretariat has listed subsistence farming(meaning self-sufficient) as being responsible for close to fifty percent of all planetary deforestation, whilst commercial agriculture(mainly concentrated animal feeding operations) makes up just over thirty percent and animal agriculture itself, is the catalyst. The remainder is caused by logging(whether legal or illegal) and civil development.
When we consider that half(in many places, such as in the United States, the percentage is higher) of all edible grain that humanity reaps is fed to nearly 60 billion land-based animals that we exploit in “livestock” conditions, and we factor in the extremely unsustainable grain to animal-based product ratio(some sixteen pounds of grain in order to generate just one pound of beef, with similar inordinate resource-consumption ratios for pork, chicken and dairy production), it becomes rather evident that the only reason for the current unsustainable resource taxation on land necessary to grow crops, is simply to feed said animals exploited in the animal agriculture industry.
Upon hearing the UNFCCC’s findings, animal-based product consumers may lose focus during a conversation and begin to trail off into “Never-never land”. This is often, to be expected. By informing someone that their specific actions have a negative impact on humanity’s future, we chip away at a life’s worth of tradition and social conditioning, which is completely directed in favor of exploiting life. The general public is consistently struck with a barrage of life-exploiting propaganda and programming, advertising that is well paid for by corporate interests which collect a great deal of money at the expense of life. There may also be a strong level of guilt standing in the way of simple understanding. We can not expect to reach every single human being that we speak to, however, an attempt is never a “lost cause”.
The only chance that humans have for the continuance of their own species, is to begin heeding the words of those who are promoting a non-destructive, non-exploitative way of existing with all life around them. Individuals who have not even begun to understand how vital rain forests are to human survival, as well as the survival of all life on the planet, need to be educated in regard to the issue. Rain forests are the “lungs of our planet”, natural humidifiers which generate the conditions necessary for life to exist, as well as carbon sequestration and storage systems. There is no question that we are obviously killing them off, to our own detriment. If the actual cause for their destruction is permitted to be continuously “hazed” behind the “smoke and mirrors”, which are well-funded by industry, then we are in serious trouble.
Humanity will eventually be forced to face the simple reality that seven billion human beings can not sustain themselves in the same manner as millions of humans once did, on a planet with finite resources, without causing extreme ecologic upheaval. Seven billion human beings can live in sustainability on this planet, however, they can not do so whilst exploiting other life forms. It is fairly evident to me that humanity is at a crossroads, where it must make a conscious evolutionary choice to either move forward on a path of symbiosis with life, or continue following the current road to extinction.
President of AELLA