Sitting next to my dad in the quiet of his hospital room, the sound of breathing fills the air. Breathe in; breathe out — and repeat. The BPAP machine dictates the rhythm.
I have never thought that much about breathing, something we automatically do all the time. But, breathing is one of the most essential functions our body performs for us.
It fills our blood stream with oxygen so that every single cell receives some. It removes waste gasses such as carbon dioxide from the blood. It helps to keep our temperature just right.
Breathing makes life possible.
Unfortunately, way too often we take the basics for granted and get careless to the point of jeopardizing our own existence.
It is all over the news.
Deforestation has increased in the Amazon. “Amazon deforestation in Brazil hits its worst level in 15 years,” reports NPR. “Rainforest lost 10,476 square kilometers between August 2020 and July 2021,” headlines The Guardian.
As reported by “Britannica,” known as “the world’s richest and most-varied biological reservoir, containing several million species of insects, plants, birds, and other forms of life, many still unrecorded by science,” the Amazon Rainforest spans 6.7 million kilometers, which is twice the size of India, and houses 10% of the world’s biodiversity.
Also called the lungs of the earth, the Amazon Rainforest is responsible for the sequestration of a high volume of carbon. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), “the Amazon contains 90 to 140 billion metric tons of carbon (and) the release of even a portion of which would accelerate global warming significantly.”
While carbon is stored, oxygen gets produced and temperatures get regulated. The Amazon Rainforest is genuinely the lungs of the planet breathing for all of us.
In a 2008 study, Nepstad et al concluded that “currently, land conversion and deforestation in the Amazon release up to 0.5 billion metric tons of carbon per year, not including emissions from forest fires, thus rendering the Amazon an important factor in regulating global climate.”
With the increase in deforestation, that becomes a great concern to all who depend on breathing. And what can be more important than breathing?
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, “The most common pressures causing deforestation and severe forest degradation are (animal) agriculture, unsustainable forest management, mining, infrastructure projects and increased fire incidence and intensity.” Add to that list crop production, illegal logging, land invasion and new settlements and we get a picture of the threats against one of the most important regions of the planet.
With the increase in global consumption of meat and the higher demand for animal feed that follows, demand for pastureland as well as cropland are on the high and account for about 90% of the destruction of the Amazon.
The use of palm oil in many products, ranging from chocolate to shampoo, also represents a threat as more and more land gets cleared to make way for palm oil production.
To change those trends, we can all chip in: reduce (or stop) meat consumption; read product labels more often — you will be surprised by some of the ingredients found in your favorite products; look for products made with sustainable palm oil (and there is an app for that — cmzoo.org/conservation/orangutans-palm-oil/sustainable-palm-oil-shopping-app/.
Whatever we decide to do has an impact and consequences. Our body teaches us that; and so do forests and nature.
Breathe. Let go. Make amends. Do your best. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure. — based on Oprah Winfrey’s quote.
Email Marcia Booth at Marcia@RecycleBrevard.org