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Question:
How is the burning of the rain forest really hurting the environment? What are the reasons for trying to save the rain forests?



Replies:
You ask how burning rain forests hurt the environment, and why people would try to save it. Without getting too philosophical, I do not think the environment can be hurt at all by anything we do we certainly can make big changes in ecological systems, and we can even destroy them -- but I cannot call this "harm" because the history of life on earth is all about adaptation to change. Obviously, burning rain forests causes the destruction of habitat for wild life, many species of which may go extinct because they cannot survive without the rain forest to support them.

Similarly, there are people living in rain forests whose way of life depends on the rain forest for its support. People living in the United States have a stake in the future of rain forests not only because of the potential economic value of the timber, the life forms, and other forest products, but also because the forests play a major role in the earth's water cycle and carbon cycle. The earth's climate may be very different if the rain forests are destroyed, and that would impact food production all over the world.

Don Libby



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