The Last Great Wonder of the World

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Valerie Riordan
Bio-220
11/24/2012
Gabrielle Vosteen

The last Great Wonder of the World
People tend to believe that the greatest threat to human survival is pollution and global warming. Where these are dynamics that threaten our quality of life, they are also by-products of an even greater danger. The single most paramount menace that threatens human survival is the deforestation of tropical rain forests by the hands of man in the name of progress. The only way to remedy this ominous hazard is to get people to view tropical rain forests as more than mere varieties of vegetation and wild animals. The key to solidifying the necessity of tropical rain forests lies deep within the intricate layers of biodiversity that culminates into life sustaining resources for human life. In general, in order to obtain a basic understanding of the importance of tropical rain forests, one needs to comprehend the hierarchy of levels of species that live there. Whether the topic is the American, African, or Asian rain forests, each forest bustles with diverse species. With genetic diversity, there is a balance of different adaptations of the same gene within a particular species. Then there is species diversification, to which there are numerous assorted creatures within each individual ecosystem. Lastly, there is ecological diversification, which is the breaking down of elaborate complexities of a biological colony that collects energy, sustains food sources, and reuses natural materials to keep the life cycle flowing (A. Akesen, K. Isik, and F. Yaltirik). The abundance of life is mostly due to the ample supply of solar energy at lower altitudes allowing the species here to thrive (Rainforest Conservation Fund). In the same way, rainforests are designed in layers that house the many bustling species and numerous plant-lives. First, there is the emergent level, which holds the most visible attribute of the rainforest with its widely spaced trees that grow to approximately 100-240’ feet tall. The second level is called the canopy, with trees that grow to be about 60-130’ feet tall. The majority of animals of the rainforests live in this level because food is most abundant, making their need to travel to the forest floor very rare. The third level is called the understory, where small trees, shrubs, and brush grow. The plant-life seldom grows beyond 60 feet in height. Finally, there is the forest floor, which remains in constant shade so the soil is quite poor in nutritional value (blueplanetbiomes.com, 2001). See food web chart on following page for a better depiction of life in the tropical rainforest. [pic]

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However, the biggest threat to the harmony and existence of tropical rainforests is deforestation. People are most commonly acquainted with logging practices as the culprit of deforestation, but deforestation takes many forms (Butler, R.). Added to the list of possible destructors are clearing for new roads and land seizure for growing crops (Lindsey, R., 2007). Of course, there are positive benefits for using logging practices. Without the harvesting of trees, it would not be possible to build homes, erect new businesses, or make a path for new roads so people can travel in order to obtain needed supplies and medicine. An increased population of consumers now uses an additional 2% of paper products each year. The rising need for paper, packaging, fiberfill, and wood is equal to one tree per person that is 16” round and 100’ tall (Associated Oregon Loggers). Furthermore, the human population benefits greatly from many products and medicine cultivated from tropical rainforests. For example, gathered from these forests are oils, fibers, resins,...
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