A Chunk of Rain Forest the Size of Lake Erie

I have pointed out before that the Great South American Rain Forest is dying, or, more precisely, being killed. The Amazon jungle is home to more than 90 percent of the world's species of plants and animals. Most of the Amazon's vast variety of flora and fauna haven't even been discovered or explored yet.

Its plants especially are important to us because they yield a large proportion of the compounds we use to make life-saving and healing drugs. There's another vital aspect of the rain forest that is not widely appreciated, and that is: its plant life is the world's largest absorber of greenhouse gases. Less absorption of those means faster global warming. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide, and breathe out oxygen—remember?

Since almost all of the jungle is in Brazil , it is Brazil 's fault that the world is losing it. Last year alone, the Brazilian government allowed—nay, encouraged—farmers to slash and burn more than 9,000 square miles of the rain forest. That's about the size of Lake Eire . Brazil has no right to sell the world's natural birthright for a mess of potage. The rain forest, like oil, is a valuable natural resource, and, like oil, it is running out.