Very few people really understand the magnitude of the threat that deforestation of the Amazon brings all of us, generally understanding broadly that there is an effect on climate change or habitat destruction. But the truth is, it goes way beyond such a simple link.
We built Teadora to be a B Corp certified company that could set an example, and help connect consumers to the products they purchase, the people that produce them, and the communities that harvest and cultivate the ingredients. All with the purpose of being one of the tiny drops that collectively can save that world treasure; the Amazon, the heartbeat of the world.
So what is so important about the Amazon that we would give up our jobs, spend our savings, and enjoy the leisurely life of an entrepreneur (you should know, I am kidding here!), all to be one small step in the process? Do we love the newly discovered vegetarian piranha that much? Is it simply that we know trees absorb CO2 and give back oxygen, and think that is pretty awe-inspiring? It is much more complex than that, so let’s talk for a minute about why rainforests matter, especially the Amazon.
1) WE HATE CANCER. Only a small % of plants, approximately 1%, depending on how it is defined, have been scientifically tested. Yet 25% of all western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest plants. More and more, plants and insects are showing tremendous capacity to fight some of the most devastating diseases we experience today. In fact, of approximately 3,000 plants that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties, 70% are available ONLY in the Amazon. Now, more and more, scientists are studying insects, frogs, and other small critters and finding interesting things there as well. According to the WWF, 100-150 species go extinct every DAY – that should concern us all!
2) IT’S GETTIN’ HOT IN HERE. Yes, let’s talk climate change. Not only do trees and other plants take in all that nasty CO2 we’re generating, they give us back oxygen. However, there is a little bit of a catch there. Those trees store that CO2. When they are cut down and burned, they release CO2. Deforestation is the second leading cause of carbon emissions, after fossil fuels. But more importantly, deforestation reduces the ability of the forest to absorb carbon, and the Amazon is by far the world’s largest carbon sink. So cutting down trees not only releases additional carbon, it reduces the absorption at the same time. It gets even more complex when you start to add in forest degradation, soil impacts, precipitation, etc. Besides, where am I supposed to hang my hammock?
3) ANIMALS ARE COOL, BUT FRAGILE. The Amazon is literally the most bio-diverse area in the world. With x plants, animals and insects, it sounds like a lot. Yet between 2010 and 2013, more than 400 new species were discovered, not including insects. These finds included a vegetarian piranha (I’ll bravely swim in a pool of piranha now!), a monkey that purrs like a cat, and a flame-patterned lizard. In fact, I have a friend who discovered 10 new species of primate in one decade of exploring the Amazon. In that same period, however, tens of thousands of species went extinct, due to deforestation. The ecosystem in the Amazon can be exceedingly fragile to new influences. The Brazil Nut tree, for example, can only be pollinated by one single type of stingerless bee. Macaws nest in specific forms of certain palm trees, but because these trees are rare, they often alternate with several other pairs to mate in off years. Commercial feather hunters may chop down a single tree to get to feathers of the nesting macaw, destroying the only nesting option for multiple pairs over the years. The list goes on and on.
4) INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DESRVE OUR RESPECT. We believe that the indigenous communities who have lived in the Amazon for many times longer than most of our own countries have been in existence, deserve to live in peace, and have a level of self-determination that ensures the vibrancy of their own cultures. They deserve health and wellness, yet they experience poisoning and murder. Many indigenous communities are now plagued by death and disease caused by such things as mercury poisoning of their water supplies and the fish they depend on. Satellite images also show that where indigenous communities are strong and healthy, deforestation is not just reduced, it is eliminated. Yet take, for example, the process in Peru. It takes 3 steps for a mining company to get approval to mine in the Amazon. It takes 27 steps, and many years, for an indigenous people to get title to land they have lived on for thousands of years.
5) WARM FUZZY – WE ARE THE WORLD. It’s all connected. NASA footage, for example, shows that one of the main nutrients for the Amazon is actually phosphor that floats over the ocean from the Sahara to fertilize the Amazon Basin – watch this amazing video! There are recently discovered ‘rivers’ floating above the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon rainforest even accounts for 20% of the world’s fresh water, and when you consider transpiration and other effects, has a fairly significant impact on rainfall, especially throughout South America, but even into the Midwest, where most US crops are grown! Water is precious, and deforestation of the Amazon is causing irreversible negative effects on our water supply.
Saving the rainforest is absolutely critical. There is NO effective plan to address climate change without stopping deforestation in the Amazon. But today, we are losing the battle. Brazil just announced, for example, that after a period of slowing deforestation, 2016 saw some of the highest rates of illegal deforestation ever. There is a tipping point that is not so far in the future, where the environmental damage is no longer reversible. But we can collectively do something about it, NOW.
Follow our blog at http://www.teadorabeauty.com/blogs, and watch for the next three in this series: 5 Things You do Every Day that Destroy the Rainforest and 10 Things You can do Today to Save the Rainforest (and yourself), 7 Things Your Business Can Do to Save the Rainforest.