the facts

Q: Why are the rain forests of the Amazon, the Congo basin and Indonesia so important?

A: The accelerating destruction of the rainforests that form a precious cooling band around the Earth's equator is now being recognized as one of the main causes of climate change. Carbon emissions from deforestation far outstrip damage caused by planes and automobiles and factories. Scientists say one days' deforestation is equivalent to the carbon footprint of eight million people flying to New York. The rain forests of the Amazon, the Congo basin and Indonesia are thought of as the lungs of the planet.
(Source: Centre for Environmental Living and Training)


Q: What are Renewable Resources?

A: Resources such as trees, fish, oxygen, and fresh water are generally considered to be renewable resources as they can be continually reproduced. Fresh water from the Earth's recycling process, fresh air from the oxygen produced by plants and trees, and trees and fish which can reproduce themselves.


Q: What are Non-Renewable “Renewable” Resources?

A: Plants and Animals - When plant and animal species become extinct.

Fresh Water - When fresh groundwater gets used up and no rain falls, sometimes for years. (More then 3/4ths of underground water is non-renewable, as replenishing it would take centuries or more - Ecological Society of America). When chemical spills are so toxic that the water and surrounding soils are polluted for a lifetime (human lifetime). And think about population growth - as some 30-70 million people are being added to our planet every year who will have water needs.


Trees - When a forest of trees is clear-cut, it can change the soil and the climate of the ecosystem so new trees cannot grow, plants die, and animals lose their habitat and die or leave the area. A natural forest has a variety of trees, plants, and life forms. A natural forest creates climate. These ecosystems evolved over a very, very long period of time and through many geologic and climatic changes. Should humans, then, be allowed to buy whole ecosystems for the purpose of destroying them - for money? That is what happens when a forest is clear-cut.


Oxygen/Clean Air - When forests and plants (on land and in our ocean waters) are destroyed or die from acid rain and pollution, they can no longer absorb carbon dioxide from the air, nor release oxygen into the atmosphere. When rivers are polluted by chemicals and erosion, oxygen is depleted from the water and living things die.


Land/Soil - When land is overgrazed or the nutrients in the soil used up from improper farming practices, the soil cannot renew itself and plants and crops cannot grow. Crop rotation is one way to help maintain soil fertility. When natural vegetation is removed from land to clear it for construction projects, mining operations or farmland, the plants and trees are no longer there to absorb rainwater and protect the soil from wind. Erosion occurs and the soil is washed away or soil particles are blown away in the winds. (see Grasslands page regarding the Dust Bowl)


Fish - When land is cleared of vegetation in watershed areas that drain into rivers, lakes, streams, estuaries, etc., soil erodes into the water and the silt smothers the fish and plant life. When pollutants drain into these waters, the toxins kill aquatic life and the pollutants can be carried through the water far distances.


Biospheres of Living Things - When pollution destroys an area, like the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Environmental disasters such as these affect whole biospheres and damage all living things for thousands of miles for many, many years. Nuclear contamination can last for longer than lifetimes (Source:


Q: How many molecules of ozone are there for every 10 million air molecules?

A: Ozone is very rare in our atmosphere, averaging about three molecules of ozone for every 10 million air molecules. In spite of this small amount, ozone plays a vital role in the atmosphere. Ozone is mainly found in two regions of the Earth's atmosphere. Most ozone (about 90%) resides in a layer that begins between 6 and 10 miles (10 and 17 kilometers) above the Earth's surface and extends up to about 30 miles (50 kilometers). This region of the atmosphere is called the stratosphere. The ozone in this region is commonly known as the ozone layer.
(Source: NOAA in Action)



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