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The destruction of the rainforests is one of the most crucial environmental issues of our time It is also one of the most misunderstood and neglected There has been so much propaganda and publicity attached to this crisis that Save the Rainforests is becoming almost as clich as Save the Whales Why dont we take this problem more seriously Is it because we as Americans simply dont understand the devastating long-terms consequences that continued deforestation of the rainforests would have Is it because our own government is involved in the deforestation either directly or by financing its development Or is it because we live in a society of excessive consumption oblivious to the problems that dont directly affect us in some tangible way The facts are out there and the results of continued deforestation of tropical rainforests are very real and becoming more evident everyday It is a tremendous global concern one that we can only resolve by popping our protective bubble of ignorance and taking action Rainforests are the Earths oldest living ecosystems They cover only about 6 of the Earths land mass yet they are home to more than half the plant and animal species in the world de Blig Muller 228 A typical four square patch of rainforest contains as many as 1500 species of flowering plants 750 species of trees 125 mammal species 400 species of birds 100 of reptiles 60 of amphibians and 150 different types of butterflies National Academy of Sciences 1997 In the Amazon Basin 18000 square miles of rainforest is lost per year due to logging mining oil drilling and clearing large tracts of land for cattle ranches and highways There are dozens of beneficial reasons for protecting this land from deforestation but I will touch on a two that I feel are particularly critical Medicine The abundant botanical resources of tropical rainforests have already provided considerable medical advances yet only one percent of the known plant
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