Meanwhile, as the Amazon withers away...

Cross-posted from Comment is Free.

On the heels of the harrowing heatwave gripping Britain, America and much of Europe, alarming new studies indicate that the Amazon rainforest -- in its second year of dangerous drought -- is disappearing at a much faster rate than previously suspected.

According to the Independent, the forest is "perilously close to 50 percent [gone], which computer models predict as the 'tipping point' that marks the death of the Amazon."

"Studies by the [Massachusetts-based] blue-chip Woods Hole Research Centre, carried out in Amazonia, have concluded that the forest cannot withstand more than two consecutive years of drought without breaking down."
And what happens if the Amazon (which contains 90 billion tons of carbon dioxide) dries up completely? Um, worldwide chaos, for a start. As they die, the forest's trees release their stored, lifetime quantities of carbon -- which could gradually increase global warming up to 50 percent.
"Scientists say that this would spread drought into the northern hemisphere, including Britain, and could massively accelerate global warming with incalculable consequences...a process that might end in the world becoming uninhabitable."
Part of the problem in the famous forest is its abundance of illegal soy farming, which razes huge areas of Amazon trees. In an investigative report, Greenpeace determined that it was three soy-loving U.S. agricultural giants (ADM, Bunge and Cargill) at the heart of this destruction.

The good news? As Felicity Lawrence and John Vidal noted in the July 24 edition of the Guardian -- some major food manufacturers are finally pledging "not to use soya illegally grown in the Amazon region, in response to evidence that large areas of virgin forest are being felled for the crop." Even McDonald's has agreed not to continue buying Amazonian soy: a shockingly positive move from a generally-nauseating corporation.

What can we do to aid the Amazon, if it's not too late? (Perhaps I should have heeded the reproaches of an environmentally-friendly aquaintance and boycotted my beloved tofu, tempeh and soy protein a long time ago!) But for now, read this; sign this and this, and spread the word to your friends.
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