THE DESTRUCTION OF MAN KIND

"We know there will be problems in environmental terms, manyserious problems, but it is a matter of economics. There won't be anycomplete disaster, and what we cannot solve, well, that's the price we haveto pay." - Eduardo Albuquerque Barbosa There is a constant war that is being fought in the rainforests ofSouth America. The death toll is one that far surpasses any other war inhistory. Vietnam and World War II had minimal loss of life compared to thisnever ending battle. It is predicted that by the year 2020, the casualties willreach 150 per day. This total does not even include the loss of human lifedue to the lack of oxygen and the unsuitable living conditions. Thishorrible scenario would be the result of mankind's failure to cooperate andlive in harmony with the environment, especially the rainforest of SouthAmerica. In the end, the destruction of the rainforests will mean thedestruction of mankind. The devastation of the rainforest may be compared to playing agame of Russian Roulette. One-forth of existing medicines are derivedfrom tropical plants whose homes are in the rainforests of South America. For every acre that is lost in the burning season, there is one acre less thatwe have for possible life saving medicines. About 70 percent of plantsused in anti-cancer drugs come from the rain forest. We are slowlydestroying ourselves and the environment. Whether we realize it or not,the world could quickly come to an ecological halt. Every day 144,000acres of the rainforests are cut down, slashed and/or put up in flames.

In 1974, Brazil started a forest fire of 20.6 million square feet (3,900 squaremiles). The fire ragged out of control and was later marked the largestforest fire in Brazilian history. This 1974 fire is now considered small toothers in the past recent years. On average the burning season lasts up tofour months out of the whole year. During this period of time, it is notuncommon for the majority of South America to be covered in a thickblanket of smoke. The bulk of these fires, when combined, are equivalentto the great inferno of 1988 at Yellow Stone National Park. Emitted fromthese devastating fires every year are billions of carcinogens andpoisonous gases that end up in the atmosphere. The gases and pollutionhave been building for many years, and scientists believe that theatmosphere is due to reach its saturation point very soon. The greed for money and lust for land are just two flames at the heartof the fire. At the expense of innocent lives of rainforest dwelling animalsand local environmentalists, large corporations can some how justify theremurderous means. Rainforests cover only a mere seven percent of theearth's land surface, yet they contain 50 percent of the world's species. Along with the thousands of animals in these century old forests, there aremany tribes of Indians who are subjected to torment and usually deathfrom the large companies. Heartless Corporations such as Endesa,Arboriente and PICOP ignore the blockades of the FPA, "Forest Peoples'Alliance", and the perpetual pleas of the Scientist's who predict, "tropicalspecies are disappearing at a rate that could conceivably reach as high as150 species a day by the year 2020" Landry, (5). Unfortunately this battlecomes down to economics versus environment, and so far the environmentis losing the war. Chico Mendes' death finally brought the much needed world wideattention to the rainforests. Until 1988 the astonishing figures produced byenvironmentalist and scientists never had much weight on the conscienceof countries outside of the Amazon Rain Forest. The death of Mendes wasthe second death of a NCRT, National Council of Rubber Tappers, memberin recent times. The fight, " at first, was only about ecology, and defendingthe fishes, the animals, the forest, and the river. They didn't realize thathumans were also in the forest" Rodrigues, Revkin (1). Though Chico wasa rubber tapper in the town of Xapuri, he spent most of the year travelingaround the world trying to gain support in his fight against the destructionof the rainforest . Chico's non-violent approach won him much favor fromthe United States and all of the other rubber tappers. Chico Mendes oncesaid, "If a messenger came down from heaven and guaranteed that mydeath would strengthen our struggle, it would even be worth it. Butexperience teaches us the opposite. Public rallies and lots of funeralswon't save the Amazon" Revkin (1). Mendes had recently returned homefrom a six week long visit and rally in the United States. Three days beforeChristmas he was