“In third world countries, at least 27 million acres of forest- an area as big as Tennessee- are either slashed and burned or flooded for dams each year. The most alarming destruction is in the Amazon Basin. (Not coincidentally, the indigenous people of the Amazon region have gone from numbering three million in the early part of this century to a population of 250,000 in 1989).
According to Brazil’s Space Studies Institute, which conducts satellite surveys, fires set in 1987 to clear the Amazon for farmers and ranchers destroyed 80,000 square miles of rain forest. In 1998, 50,000 square miles of forest lands were burned, of which 30 to 40 percent were virgin rain forest.
The environmental disaster in the Amazon is exacerbated by recent installations of giant power plants, mines and factories. To operate, these all require wood.
Coca growers also chop down large stretches of Amazon rain forest and dump millions of gallons of toxic chemicals into the Amazon River. Coca growers, who produce 75 percent of the primary source of cocaine consumed in the United States, have invaded two national parks and two national forests. They use fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, including Agent Orange and paraquat, to clear land and to care for their crop.
Some side effects of the Amazonian deforestation that contribute to other ecological problems come from the fires used to rid the area of trees. In 1989, these fires in Brazil produced approximately 600 million tons of carbon dioxide, 44 million tons of carbon monoxide, 6 million tons of particulate, 5 million tons of methane, 2.5 million tons of ozone, and more than one million tons of nitrogen oxides, according to the Earth Island Journal.” -From, “Black Dawn, Bright Day” By: Sun Bear with Wabun Wind