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Rain Forest Myth Goes Up in Smoke Over the Amazon
LA Times ^ | Henry Chu

Posted on 06/08/2005 4:11:04 PM PDT by Coleus

REMANSO TALISMA, Brazil — The death of a myth begins with stinging eyes and heaving chests here on the edge of the Amazon rain forest.

Every year, fire envelops the jungle, throwing up inky billows of smoke that blot out the sun. Animals flee. Residents for miles around cry and wheeze, while the weak and unlucky develop serious respiratory problems.

When the burning season strikes, life and health in the Amazon falter, and color drains out of the riotous green landscape as great swaths of majestic trees, creeping vines, delicate bromeliads and hardy ferns are reduced to blackened stubble.

But more than just the land, these annual blazes also lay waste to a cherished notion that has roosted in the popular mind for decades: the idea of the rain forest as the "lungs of the world."

Ever since saving the Amazon became a fashionable cause in the 1980s, championed by Madonna, Sting and other celebrities, the jungle has consistently been likened to an enormous recycling plant that slurps up carbon dioxide and pumps out oxygen for us all to breathe, from Los Angeles to London to Lusaka.

Think again, scientists say.

Far from cleaning up the atmosphere, the Amazon is now a major source for pollution. Rampant burning and deforestation, mostly at the hands of illegal loggers and of ranchers, release hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the skies each year.

Brazil now ranks as one of the world's leading producers of greenhouse gases, thanks in large part to the Amazon, the source for up to two-thirds of the country's emissions.

"It's not the lungs of the world," said Daniel Nepstad, an American ecologist who has studied the Amazon for 20 years. "It's probably burning up more oxygen now than it's producing."

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Technical
KEYWORDS: airpollution; amazon; brazil; climate; greenhouseeffect; greenhousegases; greenhousegasses; myth; rainforest; remansotalisma; slashandburn; tropicalrainforest
...Far from cleaning up the atmosphere, the Amazon is now a major source for pollution. Rampant burning and deforestation, mostly at the hands of illegal loggers and of ranchers, release hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the skies each year.

Brazil now ranks as one of the world's leading producers of greenhouse gases, thanks in large part to the Amazon, the source for up to two-thirds of the country's emissions....

Sunken Fires Menace Land and Climate

Fires are burning in thousands of underground coal seams from Pennsylvania to Mongolia, releasing toxic gases, adding millions of tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and baking the earth until vegetation shrivels and the land sinks.


1 posted on 06/08/2005 4:11:05 PM PDT by Coleus
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: Coleus

Hmmmm... Sounds like we should use better catalytic converters and legislate more different kinds of gasoline for specific localities.


3 posted on 06/08/2005 4:19:09 PM PDT by Slump Tester (John Kerry - When even your best still isn't good enough)
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To: Coleus

I've been down there. The locals are kinda touche' when you say "slash & burn". They prefer to call it "clearing the land".

Corruption is so bad, it's had to imagine anyone putting a stop it, anywhere in LA, except where saner heads are cashing in big time on eco-tourisim, like in Costa Rica.


4 posted on 06/08/2005 4:19:57 PM PDT by Wiseghy ("Sometimes you're windshield, sometimes you' re the bug")
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To: Coleus
Oh my GOD! if the glaciers melt LA and New York will be flooded out of existence! Oh wait... BURN BABY BURN!!!
5 posted on 06/08/2005 4:21:20 PM PDT by Desron13
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To: Coleus

I always found it hard to belive that forests in one part of the world were supplying oxygen for the rest of the planet.


6 posted on 06/08/2005 4:22:45 PM PDT by Sofa King (MY rights are not subject to YOUR approval.)
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To: Wiseghy

The correct term is Swidden agriculture.

Note, at work I am forced to perform Swidden ironwork.

Slash and weld.


7 posted on 06/08/2005 4:23:57 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: Sofa King
I always found it hard to belive that forests in one part of the world were supplying oxygen for the rest of the planet.

Gasses diffuse.

8 posted on 06/08/2005 4:32:56 PM PDT by snarks_when_bored
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Even without the massive burning, the popular conception of the Amazon as a giant oxygen factory for the rest of the planet is misguided, scientists say. Left unmolested, the forest does generate enormous amounts of oxygen through photosynthesis, but it consumes most of it itself in the decomposition of organic matter.
9 posted on 06/08/2005 4:33:49 PM PDT by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, algae)
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To: Coleus

Is the Amazon a rain forest? GG Liddy mentioned that the northwest forest, Oregon, Wash, Alaska, is a rain forest. The Amazon may have been farmland even quite recently.


10 posted on 06/08/2005 4:35:41 PM PDT by RightWhale
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To: snarks_when_bored

Yes, that's certainly all the science that one should need to back up the pertinent assertion


11 posted on 06/08/2005 4:40:52 PM PDT by Sofa King (MY rights are not subject to YOUR approval.)
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To: Wiseghy

Corruption is so bad>>

They recently killed an activist catholic nun down in the amazon.


12 posted on 06/08/2005 4:43:03 PM PDT by Coleus (God doesn't like moderates, Rev 3:15-16)
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To: RightWhale

most of the "devastation" happens to be caused by indian tribes (it is their traditional way of agriculture) and small farmers, who usually don´t have the legal ownership of the land and receive plenty of help from international NGOs in their struggle against large-scale commercial farming.
even though it has been burning for 30 years, the climate in the Amazon has not changed, the amount of rainfall hasn´t declined (there and in other regions which suffer the effect of amazonic air masses) and the the duo cattle-soybeans proved that the amazon can sustain commercial farming in the long run.
Actually the right in Brazil (or what is left of it) truly believes that the Amazon is on the verge of being taken by international NGOs and the UN. The only way to defend the territory is to burn the it.


13 posted on 06/08/2005 4:47:26 PM PDT by gaslucas
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To: Coleus
"It's not the lungs of the world," said Daniel Nepstad, an American ecologist who has studied the Amazon for 20 years. "It's probably burning up more oxygen now than it's producing."

Ted Turner, please pick up the white courtesy phone...


14 posted on 06/08/2005 4:50:39 PM PDT by COBOL2Java (If this isn't the End Times it certainly is a reasonable facsimile...)
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To: gaslucas

Soy is apparently becoming very popular is S America as an export crop. They will kill their agricultural industry with that.


15 posted on 06/08/2005 4:51:26 PM PDT by RightWhale
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To: Sofa King
I don't think there's any question that some of the oxygen produced by rain forests ultimately mixes into the atmosphere and spreads around the globe. Of course, you didn't say—nor did I—that "all" or "most" of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced in rain forests.

Concision in non-scientific contexts is not a vice.

16 posted on 06/08/2005 4:51:47 PM PDT by snarks_when_bored
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To: Coleus

Yes! Old growth forests pretty much come out even in oxygen produce and oxygen used. New growth produces more than it uses.


17 posted on 06/08/2005 4:57:26 PM PDT by Right Wing Assault ("..this administration is planning a 'Right Wing Assault' on values and ideals.." - John Kerry)
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To: snarks_when_bored

If you're going to make a meaningful point any time soon, then do so and stop wasting my time trying to be cute.


18 posted on 06/08/2005 5:01:39 PM PDT by Sofa King (MY rights are not subject to YOUR approval.)
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To: Sofa King
From what I understand, most of the oxygen generated for us to breathe comes from the plankton in the seas and not from forests and trees.
19 posted on 06/08/2005 5:07:13 PM PDT by Coleus (God doesn't like moderates, Rev 3:15-16)
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To: Jerry K.
"And to think that those huge evaporite deposits we humans have been mining for centuries - salt and borax the most common - I wonder how hot it was to evaporate all the water all those millions of years ago?"

You're kidding me right? You need to buy a book on sedimentary geology fast. Those deposits formed underwater. Many things can precipitate out of solution if the conditions are right, including salt and borax.

20 posted on 06/08/2005 5:25:54 PM PDT by burzum
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To: Coleus

'Rampant burning and deforestation, mostly at the hands of illegal loggers and of ranchers, release hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the skies each year.'


uhhhh...That's what the environmentalists are trying to stop. You're not exactly making your case.


21 posted on 06/08/2005 5:33:42 PM PDT by Bogey78O (*tagline removed per request*)
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To: Bogey78O

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1419117/posts?page=9#9


22 posted on 06/08/2005 5:34:42 PM PDT by Coleus (God doesn't like moderates, Rev 3:15-16)
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To: Coleus

Yea, that line makes the case much better. Saying the forests are consuming oxygen when we burn them is not a good point to argue when trying to support the idea the forest isn't sacracent.


23 posted on 06/08/2005 5:40:40 PM PDT by Bogey78O (*tagline removed per request*)
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To: Sofa King
Perhaps I misinterpreted your original post:

I always found it hard to belive [sic] that forests in one part of the world were supplying oxygen for the rest of the planet.

Perhaps you're implying that some people hold the view that the rain forests are responsible for a very large portion of the oxygen in the atmosphere, and this you find hard to believe. If so, I apologize for supposing that you were overlooking an aspect of physical chemistry.

24 posted on 06/08/2005 5:54:03 PM PDT by snarks_when_bored
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To: snarks_when_bored

"Perhaps you're implying that some people hold the view that the rain forests are responsible for a very large portion of the oxygen in the atmosphere"

Yes, that has been what I've been hearing from environmentalists. Perhaps you have been spared this.


25 posted on 06/08/2005 6:05:27 PM PDT by Sofa King (MY rights are not subject to YOUR approval.)
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To: Bogey78O; Coleus

"Yea, that line makes the case much better. Saying the forests are consuming oxygen when we burn them is not a good point to argue when trying to support the idea the forest isn't sacracent."

True, but even if the rainforest consumes most of the oxygen it produces, that's not the same as pouring tons of CO2 into the atmosphere as a result of burning it.


26 posted on 06/08/2005 6:51:16 PM PDT by Magic Fingers
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To: Coleus
As I recall, phytoplankton in the sea are responsible for a lot of the oxygen output, and that if most or all of the earth's greenery were to burn off (or the two-thirds that the Bible predicts in Revelation), we'd still be in good shape with oxygen.
27 posted on 06/08/2005 6:55:48 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger (Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13))
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To: Desron13

Can we burn them before the flood?


28 posted on 06/08/2005 6:55:54 PM PDT by B4Ranch ( Report every illegal alien that you meet. Call 866-347-2423, Employers use 888-464-4218)
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Comment #29 Removed by Moderator

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