THE DESTRUCTION OF MAN KIND

"We know there will be problems in environmental terms, many
serious problems, but it is a matter of economics. There won't be any
complete disaster, and what we cannot solve, well, that's the price we have
to pay."

- Eduardo Albuquerque Barbosa
There is a constant war that is being fought in the rainforests of
South America. The death toll is one that far surpasses any other war in
history. Vietnam and World War II had minimal loss of life compared to this
never ending battle. It is predicted that by the year 2020, the casualties will
reach 150 per day. This total does not even include the loss of human life
due to the lack of oxygen and the unsuitable living conditions. This
horrible scenario would be the result of mankind's failure to cooperate and
live in harmony with the environment, especially the rainforest of South
America. In the end, the destruction of the rainforests will mean the
destruction of mankind.

The devastation of the rainforest may be compared to playing a
game of Russian Roulette. One-forth of existing medicines are derived
from tropical plants whose homes are in the rainforests of South America.

For every acre that is lost in the burning season, there is one acre less that
we have for possible life saving medicines. About 70 percent of plants
used in anti-cancer drugs come from the rain forest. We are slowly
destroying ourselves and the environment. Whether we realize it or not,
the world could quickly come to an ecological halt. Every day 144,000
acres of the rainforests are cut down, slashed and/or put up in flames.

In 1974, Brazil started a forest fire of 20.6 million square feet (3,900 square
miles). The fire ragged out of control and was later marked the largest
forest fire in Brazilian history. This 1974 fire is now considered small to
others in the past recent years. On average the burning season lasts up to
four months out of the whole year. During this period of time, it is not
uncommon for the majority of South America to be covered in a thick
blanket of smoke. The bulk of these fires, when combined, are equivalent
to the great inferno of 1988 at Yellow Stone National Park. Emitted from
these devastating fires every year are billions of carcinogens and
poisonous gases that end up in the atmosphere. The gases and pollution
have been building for many years, and scientists believe that the
atmosphere is due to reach its saturation point very soon.

The greed for money and lust for land are just two flames at the heart
of the fire. At the expense of innocent lives of rainforest dwelling animals
and local environmentalists, large corporations can some how justify there
murderous means. Rainforests cover only a mere seven percent of the
earth's land surface, yet they contain 50 percent of the world's species.

Along with the thousands of animals in these century old forests, there are
many tribes of Indians who are subjected to torment and usually death
from the large companies. Heartless Corporations such as Endesa,
Arboriente and PICOP ignore the blockades of the FPA, "Forest Peoples'

Alliance", and the perpetual pleas of the Scientist's who predict, "tropical
species are disappearing at a rate that could conceivably reach as high as
150 species a day by the year 2020" Landry, (5). Unfortunately this battle
comes down to economics versus environment, and so far the environment
is losing the war.

Chico Mendes' death finally brought the much needed world wide
attention to the rainforests. Until 1988 the astonishing figures produced by
environmentalist and scientists never had much weight on the conscience
of countries outside of the Amazon Rain Forest. The death of Mendes was
the second death of a NCRT, National Council of Rubber Tappers, member
in recent times. The fight, " at first, was only about ecology, and defending
the fishes, the animals, the forest, and the river. They didn't realize that
humans were also in the forest" Rodrigues, Revkin (1). Though Chico was
a rubber tapper in the town of Xapuri, he spent most of the year traveling
around the world trying to gain support in his fight against the destruction
of the rainforest . Chico's non-violent approach won him much favor from
the United States and all of the other rubber tappers. Chico Mendes once
said, "If a messenger came down from heaven and guaranteed that my
death would strengthen our struggle, it would even be worth it. But
experience teaches us the opposite. Public rallies and lots of funerals
won't save the Amazon" Revkin (1). Mendes had recently returned home
from a six week long visit and rally in the United States. Three days before
Christmas he