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SOUTH AMERICA
Humans: the Amazon’s greatest enemy
2/25/2009
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Human activity continue to be biggest threat to the “planet’s lungs.”

British researchers recently found that the Amazon rainforest is in a better state to confront climate change than previously thought.

But the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences, said there is a clear possibility that human activity could cause a rapid degradation of Amazon forest this century.

The study simulated and compared 19 possible global climate change models and their effects on the land, but found that they underestimated current rainfall levels in the Amazon region and were unable to copy some of the intricacies of the South American climate and geography.

The researchers found that the eastern Amazon will likely maintain its rainfall level to possibly become a seasonally dry, or monsoonal climate, instead of a dry savannah climate, but added that greenhouse gas emissions must be controlled.

"The study warns that [seasonal dry] areas will become tinderboxes if deforestation, logging and heavy fire use is not controlled," a release said.

Natural resource exploitation, infrastructure development and human settlements are further threatening the Amazon, which includes Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

The population in the Amazon region has increased by nearly 580 percent in the last 40 years, the United Nations Environment Program said in a Feb. 18 study. Brazil´s Amazon region highways increased 10-fold between 1975 and 2005.

"The dominant production model that does not take any lasting development criteria into account, is driving the fragmentation of ecosystems and the erosion of biodiversity," said the UN study, which was conducted along with Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization.
—Latinamerica Press.


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