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Old 08-24-2019, 11:47 AM
SamuelA is offline
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How will human lives be harmed when/if the Amazon burns to the ground?


What benefits does the Amazon offer to human beings? I understand it's a net oxygen producer - but it can't sink CO2 to any significant extent, there's no peat bogs and those trees aren't usually used for lumber. So I'm not sure what the loss of the Amazon will really due to global CO2 levels. (which are going to keep rising so long as fossil fuels are being burned, of course)

People talk about the potential for some exotic biotech medicine - really? Why would a random organism in the forest produce exactly the molecule needed to treat a human disease? It's improbable. More effective drugs can (and often are) either rationally designed (looking for a molecule that binds well to a known target somewhere in the human body) or done with organic chemistry methods that systematically can synthesize any small molecule. (obviously most bigger ones won't be tried, as the number of possible small molecules goes up exponentially). Or biotech drugs - gene therapy and antibody therapy is targeted, again not from some random plant in a jungle.

So if human beings don't directly benefit from the Amazon - I mean it is a dense jungle, and generally speaking these have never been great places for human beings due to parasites and predators - why should they save it?

I understand it's an ecological treasure and contains countless species. But unless other countries are going to pay Brazil to leave it untouched, how can you expect the people who live there to not want to turn it all into pastureland? (and pay more than the value of the place as something else)
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Old 08-24-2019, 07:46 PM
don't mind me is offline
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The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies determined that all tropical forests combined contain about 25 percent of the world’s carbon, with the Amazon basin storing up to 140 billion tons (127 billion metric tons). For reference, if the entire Amazon forest was lost, and that carbon was emitted into the atmosphere, it would be the equivalent of up to 140 years of all human-induced carbon emissions.
From here. As the first paragraph explains, the oxygen production is much more important than you imply.

Last edited by don't mind me; 08-24-2019 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 08-24-2019, 07:57 PM
don't mind me is offline
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Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
I understand it's an ecological treasure and contains countless species. But unless other countries are going to pay Brazil to leave it untouched, how can you expect the people who live there to not want to turn it all into pastureland? (and pay more than the value of the place as something else)
Other countries were paying Brazil until Bolsonaro basically reneged.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...jair-bolsonaro

The Amazon basin is very poorly suited for agriculture. It would make more sense to encourage ecotourism and respectful tourism into indigenous communities, which are being done in many countries.

https://rainforests.mongabay.com/0811.htm

Last edited by don't mind me; 08-24-2019 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 08-25-2019, 01:21 PM
naita is offline
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Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
What benefits does the Amazon offer to human beings? I understand it's a net oxygen producer - but it can't sink CO2 to any significant extent, there's no peat bogs and those trees aren't usually used for lumber. So I'm not sure what the loss of the Amazon will really due to global CO2 levels. (which are going to keep rising so long as fossil fuels are being burned, of course)
The Amazon is probably not a net oxygen producer to a significant extent. https://climatenexus.org/climate-cha...imes-too-high/

But even if it's not a massive CO2 sink it does represent a significant storage of carbon as it is, and the current rate of burning will lead to cascade effects killing off the rest of the forest in our lifetimes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
People talk about the potential for some exotic biotech medicine - really? Why would a random organism in the forest produce exactly the molecule needed to treat a human disease? It's improbable. More effective drugs can (and often are) either rationally designed (looking for a molecule that binds well to a known target somewhere in the human body) or done with organic chemistry methods that systematically can synthesize any small molecule. (obviously most bigger ones won't be tried, as the number of possible small molecules goes up exponentially). Or biotech drugs - gene therapy and antibody therapy is targeted, again not from some random plant in a jungle.
Random organisms have already yielded biotech breakthroughs. Curare, acetylsalicylic acid, cyclosporin, etc. Yes, only the first of those came from the rain forest, but the biodiversity there means more opportunities for finding something useful.

Our disease fighting requirements are not unique, and high biodiversity means a high diversity of solutions.

The benefits for finding natural molecules to start with over designing molecules are multiple:

* It means it is absolutely known there's a viable chemical pathway to creating it. A computer can spit out a molecular formula that has the right shape, but that doesn't mean we can create the molecule.

* Nature has done the trial and error for us in finding a form that can be biosynthesized. All we need is to snip out a gene and stick it in bacteria.

* Nature has done the trial and error of coming up with a novel approach to fighting disease and testing whether it is cost effective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
So if human beings don't directly benefit from the Amazon - I mean it is a dense jungle, and generally speaking these have never been great places for human beings due to parasites and predators - why should they save it?
There are a lot of people living there, but screw those, right? There are products that only grow in the rain forest, but as long as we get soy, who cares?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
I understand it's an ecological treasure and contains countless species. But unless other countries are going to pay Brazil to leave it untouched, how can you expect the people who live there to not want to turn it all into pastureland? (and pay more than the value of the place as something else)
Burning it down will change the local climate dramatically. It will happen even before all of it is gone, changing the availability of water for huge part of a whole continent.

And as other's have pointed out, other countries have been paying Brazil to leave it untouched.

How can I expect the people who live there to not want to turn it all into pastureland? Well we could start by making international trade a lower priority than environmental protection and stop buying products that destroy natural habitats far away.

Turning the Amazon, temporarily, into pasture isn't driven by Brazilians wanting beef, it's driven by international demand for Brazilian beef and Brazilian soy beans.

Other motivation for burning, such as loggers driving native tribes away and opening road routes to new old forest, is similarly short sighted and driven by international trade that does not care about habitat destruction in far away places.
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Old 08-25-2019, 01:34 PM
Musicat is offline
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Originally Posted by naita View Post
Turning the Amazon, temporarily, into pasture isn't driven by Brazilians wanting beef, it's driven by international demand for Brazilian beef and Brazilian soy beans.
A demand that can only increase if American farmers can't sell China their beef and soybeans anymore thanks to Trump.
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