Cutting down the Brazilian rainforest is not a morally just thing to do. Not only does leave the soil sterile and cut the land used for crops' life in half, but it also eliminates the opportunity for new medicines to be found, new plants to use for treatment in the medical field, and petroleum substitutes to be collected and used, just to name a few. In addition, the presence of the rainforest helps protect us from global warming and keeps some of the rarest and beneficial animals and their homes alive. However, many people feel that the cities in Brazil are very crowded and the opening of the Amazon basin for people to live will be beneficial to the overcrowding problem. Also, by cutting down the rainforest, Brazil makes good money selling the lumber to Japan. With the construction of new roadways that lead to the Amazon Rainforest, the government was able to make money while relocating many of its inhabitants. The problem that arises from Brazil's rainforest dilemma is that the various benefits and harms of the development of forest are incommensurable and not easily weighed. They involve the weighing of differences between global and local goods - the benefits of selling lumber and creating ranches for local populations versus the possible global benefits of a potential cure for cancer or a contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Cutting Down the Rainforest Rids the Land of All Nutrients and Makes it Infertile The rainforest was cut down by the original pioneers and primarily the ranchers' workforces, and then burnt during the dry season. The ash from the forest was then used to fertilize the crops or fodder they developed. The constraints of the rainforest's soil are pivotal to the much concern that arose from this technique of clearing, burning, and then planting. This technique could render worthwhile crops, but only for a short time - from between 2-3 years to 10-12 years. After this, however, the landowners are compelled to move elsewhere to carry on with their technique. This is due to the fact that the rainforest contains no topsoil, and farming and cultivation is not able to be prolonged or sustainable. The soil in the rainforest is remarkable for its lack of nutrients. Therefore, the forests are deemed to be one of the most delicate biomes in the world. The soil in the rainforest is so sterile primarily for two reasons: firstly, the inundating rains of the tropics causes any topsoil or organic matter present, to be washed away so that it does not have time to stay and decay, and secondly, whatever nutrients are present are securely situated within the huge biomasses of the trees. Therefore, when the trees are sold as raw lumber the nutrients are also sold. If, alternatively, the trees are burnt for the function of fertilization this is a definitive and once-off act. The rate at which substances decay in the tropics also proves to be a problem. Due to the enormous heat and humidity within the rainforests decaying soil and litter quickly changes into a "hardpan of inorganic minerals with no supporting organic humus ... In temperate latitudes, a leaf takes about a year to decompose, and the combination of the decomposing organisms, the products of their metabolism, the partially decomposed organic material, and the soil minerals, all form part of the humus that builds up topsoil (Dillingham, C and Newton, L: 1994. p150)." This will not occur in the rainforests; once the forest and soil have been plundered, they will not return. The question that hence arises is why the landowners continue in this bootless and unavailing act, knowing that their ranches turn to desert after the technique of cutting and burning is implemented? The reason seems to be that they place a higher value on the easy money made than that of the rainforest. They are not concerned whether the rainforest is destroyed, so long as they can own that destroyed land. The ranchers desire the land, without interference from the...
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