Savannah, GA (WiredPRNews.com). Brazil, the World’s largest exporter of beef, cotton, coffee, orange juice soybeans and sugar, has become an agricultural superpower in less than a generation. The catalyst behind this phenomenon are factors such as cheap land, a booming demand for commodities, and a growing global interest in biofuels.
What has been alarming environmentalists about this growth, however, is that between June 2000 and June 2008 more than 150,000 square kilometers of rain forest were cleared in the Brazilian Amazon, as reported by the United Nations Department of Environmental Protection. The large-scale land clearing, seen as necessary to grow food and cattle ranching to feed the world’s growing population and meet its growing appetite for meat, sucks moisture from surrounding forest fragments. This causes winds to blow down trees, thinning the canopy and allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor. In turns, this dries the leaves of the forest, creating leaf litter, which in turn creates tinder resulting in fires which can burn down nearby forests.
This chain effect has created huge amounts of carbon emission through fires and machinery that is used to fell tress, and has destroyed plant life that helps absorb carbon dioxide emissions from cars and factories around the globe. Carbon emission is the leading contributor of climate change, and as of the present day Brazil accounts for 20 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Environmentalists have been pressing the importance of spreading awareness worldwide, recognizing that both global and local economic forces are driving deforestation. Trees, for example, are felled for cattle pasture and soy farms. Unless this issue is managed properly, environmentalists warn that additional impacts will arise. As a result, international organizations are working with Brazil to develop a Deforestation Management Strategy to protect the Amazon rain forest.
Studies have shown that spreading awareness of global deforestation has a direct correlation to the effectiveness and success of a campaign. To begin, raising awareness about food consumption, and more specifically meat intake, has been seen as a top priority. Environmentalists have been urging food and products which lead to deforestation to be labeled as such in order to discourage their consumption.
Knowing how lucrative certain businesses can be to poor farmers who have no other way of creating income, environmentalists have been proposing the creation of incentives to rural farmers in order to entice them to keep their forests standing. In June 2009, the United States passed a climate change bill in the House asking rich countries to pay poor farmers to preserve their forests. Environmentalists lauded the bill, and have noted that it is important to keep in mind that the cash incentive needs to be strong enough to make the farmers stop tree cutting.