The vast tropical rainforest-the largest of its kind-is diminishing at an alarming rate. If the Amazon Rainforest is destroyed, the effects on Earth will be devastating.

What the Amazon Rainforest Means to Earth

To give you an idea of how much it matters to our planet, let’s start with the basic Amazon Rainforest facts:

  • The Amazon Rainforest is responsible for 20% of Earth’s oxygen.
  • It is home to approximately 10% of the world’s species, including 370 types of reptiles, 3,000 freshwater fish species, 3,000 types of edible fruits, 40,000 types of plants, and over 2.5 million species of insects.
  • It has 80% of the world’s food, including figs, oranges, avocados, bananas, and mangos, among other tropical fruits.
  • It stretches over 9 Brazilian states and 8 other countries.
  • It is inhabited by about 400-500 indigenous tribes.

As you know, we are losing the Amazon Rainforest every minute-a football field-size of it, to be exact. Around 17% of the forest has already been lost in the past 50 years because of several factors such as wildfires, deforestation, and global warming. In 2019 alone, Brazil has recorded over 74,000 fires and while wildfires are partly natural phenomena, that doesn’t mean the raging fires we’re seeing now are normal. This increased rate of forest fires shows a worsening climate change situation and human destruction. If we don’t take action, animals, plants, and humans would all face dire consequences if the Amazon Rainforest is destroyed.

Things that can happen if we lose the Amazon Rainforest
Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, near Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. If we lose the Amazon Rainforest, the effects on Earth will be devastating. Photo: Neil Palmer

What Would Happen If the Amazon Rainforest is Destroyed?

1. Half of the ecosystem will be wiped out

When the Amazon Rainforest is destroyed, half of the world’s flora and fauna will be destroyed, too. Studies show that we are already losing 137 animals, plants, and other microorganisms every day. If this trend continues, the effects on the Earth would devastate us, making us realize just how much we had been relying on the resources that the Amazon offers.

2. There will be long spells of drought and a series of massive flooding

Losing the rainforest could also alter rainfall patterns in the region and, eventually, across the world. This would prompt a shift in climate, resulting in severe droughts, longer dry spells, and extreme flooding. It would cause a further ripple effect, leading to increased erosions, the spread of infectious diseases as well as the destruction of biodiversity.

3. There will be a shortage of agriculture, food, and water supplies

The change in rainfall patterns could also have a devastating effect on agriculture. Warmer temperatures, long droughts, and massive floods could threaten water and food supplies. Less rainfall could also mean a higher risk of pest infestations and disease infections. There would also be less water supply for irrigation, all of which could cause fewer yields and limited resources.

4. About 80% of the food varieties we get will be lost

We mentioned earlier that the Amazon Rainforest produces 80% of the world’s food, and losing it would significantly diminish our food supply. These include the over 3,000 edible fruits in the rainforest such as coconuts, pineapples, tomatoes, and more.

5. There will be more greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere

The Amazon Rainforest absorbs over 2 billion tons of CO2 every year. However, if the trees and plants in the rainforest were to dry out, they could instead become a source of more CO2 in the atmosphere, contributing further to climate change and speeding up the global warming process. Experts show that dead trees in the Amazon release about 1.9 billion tons of CO2 a year, which is 5-6 times more greenhouse gases than usual.

Takeaway

The Amazon Rainforest is home to more plants and animals than any other place on Earth. About 30 million people from hundreds of different tribes also call it their home.


Aside from the ones enumerated on this list, the potential destruction of the rainforest could also mean the air quality will drop and we’ll start inhaling more CO2. There would also be a significant loss of medical possibilities, as hundreds of prescription drugs that we know today are derived from the natural resources of the Amazon-and these are not just herbal remedies but cancer-fighting drugs, among many others.

The possibilities would be catastrophic, but scientists say it’s very unlikely that the rainforest would disappear. But, of course, all these would depend on the resilience of nature and on the speed and extent of human disturbances. Global action on climate change is necessary to prevent the further destruction of the Amazon Rainforest.

What are your thoughts on the possibilities that could happen if the Amazon Rainforest disappears? What can you do to save Amazon now? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below and share this article with your friends.

M. Özgür Nevres
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