Although it may seem extreme, there is a trilemma around conserving the Amazon Rainforest. Read to find out more.
by Pranav Arun
We’re all familiar with the Amazon Rainforest, whether we have seen it on a laptop screensavers, in the movie Rio, or when learning about the poison dart frogs. It is true that the Amazon Rainforest is an amazing place with its great natural beauty, and its healthy biodiversity. But could it be obstructing something better for the human population?
The Amazon rainforest, home to the great Amazon river, is the largest rainforest in the world, bigger than the second and third largest forests combined. Stated by mynation.com, these other two rainforests, the Congo Basin and Indonesia rainforests, truly seem miniscule compared to the 390 billion individual trees estimated to be in the Amazon Rainforest. Even though this Amazon Rainforest seems endless, it is facing great threats from the surrounding farmers, lumber industries, and wildfires. According to Mongabay, in 2019 alone, over 74,000 forest fires were recorded in Brazil. Some of these wildfires, reported by CNN, were burning a football field’s worth of trees every minute. Conspiracy theories arose that farmers who wanted to expand their land initiated these fires, which has not been proven yet. But, should these farmers be allowed to expand their land if it means food for more? Should building companies be allowed to build on previous rainforest lands if it means homes for more people?
Here’s where the Trilemma is presented: should we preserve the rainforest, with its trees and biodiversity, should we let developers and farmers take control of it, or is there a neutral side that benefits both?
The Green Side- People for Conservation
Many people argue that the green approach is the right approach, and they have good reasons to think that way. On our planet, an ecological balance is necessary in order for life to thrive. Humans have already upset that balance in many ways, and they continue to do so. Biodiversity is also key to a healthy planet, and rainforests are some of the last places with extreme biodiversity. You can find anything from vividly colored frogs to tiny ants, piranhas to poisonous snakes. It is clear to many that these things are worth conserving, even if it means less food for us or less space to live. According to mynation.com, the Amazon Rainforest also provides us with 20% of the world’s oxygen, meaning that 1 in 5 breaths we take in have oxygen fully from the trees in the Amazon Rainforest. This means that air quality throughout the world will severely worsen if the Amazon Rainforest is given up to farmers. It plays a crucial role in keeping carbon dioxide levels in check, further helping the air quality of our planet. This stance is taken by environmentalists, ecologists, and many other scientists, and is rivaled by people with other ideas about Amazon Rainforest land.
The Side Against Conservation: People for Development
Other people argue that Rainforest land could be put to better use, such as housing and agricultural purposes. The land could be used to develop Brazil, as it has a high poverty rate and high crime rate. Developing this land could lead to more jobs and less crime, as more people start working on farms and buildings, which previously was rainforest land. It can also provide more food for the rapidly increasing population of South America. Land being developed leads to business, and good business leads to a good economy. In a way, the development of the Amazon Rainforest can also lead to economic growth for Brazil and the surrounding countries, especially in the agricultural and lumber industries. People who support this side tend to be entrepreneurs and developers.
The Possible Neutral Side
Is there a possible way to satisfy both sides in this Trilemma? The answer is yes. If we can help the Amazon rainforest by reforesting lost land, and if we can encourage strict development and agricultural improvement, we can satisfy both sides of this Trilemma. Development could be controlled, but permitted, on areas of land less important to biodiversity, or non-Amazon lands, such as Brazil and Argentina’s dryer, more southern regions. If farmers could be allowed to expand their land, under strict conditions, bordering the Amazon Rainforest, both sides of this Trilemma could be satisfied.
Personally, I fully side with the Green Side because of the ecological importance of biodiversity and the role that Amazon trees play in oxygenation. We would have a lot more trouble breathing if people did not have the Amazon Rainforest, and I feel that too much of it has been destroyed already. If people want to develop, they can find other ways to do it in places that do not have much impact on biodiversity and ecology. Personally, I find the neutral stance to be a big compromise for the Amazon Rainforest, and still prefer the Green Side over it. Even though this may be my personal stance, you could go with any side and still have a truckload of evidence to support your claim.
Next time you take a breath of fresh air, think about the role the Amazon Rainforest plays in that.