We heard quite a bit about rainforest destruction in the 80's and 90's. Even the Grateful Dead joined the efforts to raise awareness and gather support for rain forest preservation. In the past, the Dead stayed away from political activism because (quoting Jerry Garcia):
Power is a scary thing. When you feel that you are close to it, you want to
make sure that it isn't used for misleading. So all this time we've avoided
making any statements about politics, about alignments of any sort.
But the Dead decided deforestation was too big of an issue to ignore and held a press conference at the United Nations in 1988 to discuss (quoting Jerry, once again):
the larger question of global survival and everything else.
Did the attention help? Did the publicity turn the tide? Has the destruction ceased?
But there are a few more things we can do through our purchasing power, supposedly. After all, now we help save the rainforest by buying chocolate bars and Fair Trade coffee. perhaps
And we do have some really nice teaching tools that should be helpful, should we decide to focus on learning more before it's too late. So, grab a cup of Free Trade coffee and hit the web to check out these links.
1. The best teaching and learning site that I found was from the NASA Earth Observatory, where I made this movie showing 1km AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) fires vs. radiation exposure between 1992 and 1993.
Not only did this site have very readable articles covering many different aspects of tropical deforestation, why it happens, the rate, the link to global processes, and what happens after deforestation, they house a jackpot in terms of data sets, and tools for making animations that show changes over time and compare different data sets side by side.
There are data sets for UV Exposure, Surface Temperature, Snow cover, carbon monoxide, population, vegetation, fires, ozone, all kinds of things. Some start as early as 1978, some go through 2006.
This site is like the environmental science equivalent of the NCBI!
2. You can read the Rainforest Facts.
3. Rainforestweb.org has compiled several links to rainforest information sites including sites from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, National Geographic, and others.
4. Last, if you want to go learn onsite, check out the non-profit organization: Rainforest and Reef. They specialize in field courses in rainforest and marine ecology and will have a new catalog available in September. And thank-you to J. Micheal Nolan for providing me with some of the information presented here.
"And it's just a box of rain;
I don't know who put it there;
Believe it if you need it
Or leave it if you dare"
-Robert Hunter, 1970