11 Things That Will Happen to Our Planet If the Amazon Rainforest Burns Down Completely
The Amazon rainforest is shrinking at an alarming rate. Currently, we are losing one “football field” of Amazon forest every single minute. Raging fires, deforestation, and global warming are tearing the mighty rainforest apart as we speak, and just this year, there were a record 74,000 fires in Brazil. Yes, “The Earth’s Lungs” are facing a potential wipeout from the face of the earth, but if the Amazon did, in fact, disappear completely, the consequences would be harrowing.
Bright Side made a list of 11 scary, yet probable, things that could happen to our planet if we remain idle to the potential destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
1. Nearly half of the world’s species of plants, animals, and microorganisms would be destroyed.
The Amazon rainforest is home to 10% of the world’s species, including 40,000 plant species, 3,000 freshwater fish species, over 370 types of reptiles, and 2.5 million species of insects. According to many experts, we are currently losing 137 animal, plant, and insect species every day. That adds up to about 50,000 species in a single year, which is a catastrophe for the biodiversity of the world. If this trend keeps up at the current rate, we would lose nearly half of the world’s species, including 118 endangered species.
2. There would be a giant loss of medical possibilities, since 90% of human diseases are treatable with drugs derived from the nature of the Amazon.
The modern medical world literally depends on the riches of the Amazon rainforest. If the rainforest disappears, so will many potential cures for diseases. Currently, 121 prescription drugs, including drugs that treat glaucoma, leukemia, heart disease, and malaria, are derived from plants found in the Amazon rainforest. And given that the Amazon rainforest is home to 80,000 plant species, out of which only 1% have been tested for their medicinal potential, we would lose all the natural sources that could be potentially hiding the cures for many deadly diseases.
3. There will be longer spells of dry weather and massive amounts of flooding.
If the Amazon rainforest is destroyed, rainfall will decrease around the forest region. This would cause a ripple effect, and prompt an additional shift in climate change, which would result in more droughts, longer dry spells, and massive amounts of flooding. Ultimately, the consequences would be felt in every corner of our planet as severe droughts and extreme floods would lead to a massive destruction of the animal world, increased erosion, and the spread of infectious diseases. Sadly, the Amazon rainforest is already seeing a reduction in rainfall by 25% in some regions.
4. 5 to 6 times more greenhouse gases would get released which would speed up the global warming process.
Trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide, and as they perish from the Amazon rainforest, they will release billions of tons of carbon that the rainforest has been storing for years. Its potential destruction would emit 5 to 6 times more greenhouse gases than normal, which would affect the air quality and temperatures, eventually speeding up the global warming process.
5. Less rainfall and increased drought would threaten agriculture, water, and food supplies.
Warmer temperatures, long droughts, and frequent floods would also take their toll on agriculture, water, and food supplies. The decrease in rainfall would lead to an increase in pest and disease infection, and less water means fewer resources for sowing and maintaining crops. This would severely damage agriculture yields, which, in return, would limit our food supplies.
6. We would lose 80% of the varieties of food we get across the world.
There are over 3,000 fruits in the Amazon rainforest that are edible. The rainforest produces 80% of the world’s food, including avocados, figs, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, bananas, mangos, pineapples, coffee, coconuts, chocolate, and tomatoes. Losing the Amazon rainforest would significantly decimate our food supply.
7. The air quality will drop and we will start inhaling more CO2.
According to the World Wildlife Organization, the Amazon rainforest stores about 100 billion metric tons of carbon. If the Amazon rainforest does burn out, it will become a source rather than storage for carbon dioxide. Its potential destruction would mean that the rainforest will stop recycling CO2 into oxygen, and this would impact the air quality of the entire planet.
8. A decrease in rainfall would increase dry weather and cause more forest fires.
Setting aside the fact that man-made fires are tormenting the Amazon rainforest, if the temperatures increase up to 3 degrees Celsius, natural fires would wipe out 75% of the Amazon. Furthermore, that would create a chain reaction, and the loss of trees would lead to a reduction of rainfall, which in return would cause drier spells of weather, eventually causing more forest fires around the globe.
9. Around 30 million people who take shelter in the rainforest would lose their homes.
The Amazon is home to more than 30 million people, 2.7 million of them are indigenous. More than 350 ethnic groups depend solely on the Amazon rainforest. Even though many of them live in urban locations, all the residents rely solely on the natural resources of the Amazon for food, shelter, and traditional medicine.
10. We would lose 20% of the world’s freshwater.
The Amazon River stores 1/5 of the earth’s fresh water, which brings a lot of benefits both for the people of Brazil and the environment as well. Each second, approximately 175,000 cubic meters of freshwater water is discharged from the Amazon River into the Atlantic Ocean. The freshwater is important because it provides nutrients from the plants, animals, fungi, and minerals. The lack of rainfall would have a devastating impact on the freshwater system and the nutrient input in the river.
11. We would lose 70% of the 3,000 plants that are active against cancer.
Out of the 3000 plants that are active against cancer cells, 70% of them are found in the rainforests, including Periwinkle, the world’s most powerful anticancer drug. Since its discovery, this drug alone has drastically increased the survival rate for children suffering from acute leukemia. The drug is extracted from the rainforest plant, Vincristine, which has its roots in the rainforest.
What are your thoughts on the potential consequences that might happen if the Amazon rainforest disappears? Do you think it’s too late for us to save the Amazon now? Let us know what you think in the comment section.