There’s a cruel irony in the massive destruction of Brazil’s rain forests. In many other parts of the world, notably Africa, India, China and parts of Central and South America, there is a growing fuel-wood crisis of ominous proportions.
Hundreds of millions of people in the Third World are also destroying forests and shrub land in a desperate daily scramble for wood for cooking and heating.
Denuded tropical forest soils quickly wash away, leaving behind useless, hard-panned ground which supports very little vegetation.
The United Nation’s World Commission on Environment and Development estimates that “If trends (of deforestation) continue, by the year 2000 around 2.4 billion people may be living in areas where wood is extremely scarce.” Already, in most of the world (including the U.S.) wood consumption exceeds production.
The population explosion--90 million more people being added to the already 5 billion world population--drives the inexorable destruction of forests.
Neither of the presidential candidates has uttered a peep about these and related issues of possibly crucial alteration of the world’s life-support systems--air, water, land and forests. The Congress is inert.
It’s late, but not too late. Our political leaders need to be told to get going on an agenda that should include: world population stabilization; development based on “sustainable” use of natural resources; reforestation; energy conservation; reversal of destruction by chlorofluorocarbons of the ozone layer in the stratosphere; slowing of the “greenhouse effect” caused by burning fossil fuels, and protection of the ocean and inland waters.