Deforestation is happening at catastrophic levels across the globe – an issue which will ultimately impact all forms of life on our planet. Forests act as Earth’s lungs; absorbing carbon dioxide, as well as releasing oxygen. Global climate change is the result of increased levels of carbon dioxide given off by the burning of fossil fuels, and so our forests are more essential than ever to our continued survival on this planet. Between providing oxygen and regulating Earth’s temperature, the function of Earth’s forests are crucial to all life.
Although deforestation has been legally practiced in the name of progress heavily surrounding the Industrial Revolution, illegal logging is currently the primary concern. To combat this issue, an organization by the name of Rainforest Connection has been established, which fits recycled smartphones with solar panels to allow an application to run that tracks abnormal audio in protected areas. This application works in real-time and can thereby alert park rangers or other applicable authority figures to quickly address unnatural disturbances – such as the roar of engines, the sound of felling trees, or chainsaws.
The application helps authorities combat the illegal deforestation of protected forests, while simultaneously reusing smartphones which might otherwise spend eternity in a landfill. The use of solar panels, such as those installed by companies like Get Powered By Sun, allows the real-time transfer of data throughout the day. Although it is tragic that such technology is necessary, it is a brilliant and low-cost innovation created in an effort to protect our precious rainforests.
Deforestation destroys the quality of soil – which is sort of ironic, given that the majority of deforestation takes place to make room for massive agricultural projects. This involves converting the land into large-scale monoculture crops, which are proven to be destructive given that pesticides and GMOs are necessary to make a crop with a lack of diversity successful. The water cycle also suffers given that trees are vital to the absorption of water from the soil, as well as returning water to the air. Without trees, the soil dries and becomes a desert – consider the Dust Bowl in the United States. Huge amounts of water is needed to hydrate crops, and temperature becomes extreme and irregular.
Timber is also used for massive livestock projects – another devastating industry for the planet. Such animal compounds are not only miserable places for animals, but also require incredible amounts of water to sustain, release methane into the atmosphere, and pollute natural systems. In addition to agriculture and livestock, trees are also used for construction materials and paper, or simply cleared to make roads to reach more lumber.
Rainforests are epicenters for biodiversity, and with huge swaths of forests the size of Panama being decimated each year, countless plants, animals and insects are lost – very likely including species we have not yet seen and classified, holding the cures to diseases and other maladies that plague our planet. In fact, scientists have determined that approximately 70 percent of the world’s plants and animals reside in rainforests. In summation, no good can come from deforestation. Perhaps the aforementioned application will be used on a massive scale, so that we can all do our part to preserve the rainforests of our home planet.