Why the Amazon is so important

this is the earth and this portion here

is the Amazon as small as it may look

when compared to the rest of the planet

it actually has a huge importance for

life due to the part it plays in the

water cycle and temperature regulation

we'll talk about this and also about the

role of animal life to illustrate how

important it is to safeguard the

connections between the Andes Mountains

the Amazon and the Atlantic Ocean

a very common metaphor to refer to the

Amazon jungle is that of a lung because

it exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide

with the atmosphere which of course is

crucial in order for all of us to be

able to breathe but the jungle goes

beyond that so much so that a big part

of South America would be a desert

without it but why let's begin by

pointing out that water is mostly

accumulated in the oceans

although the sun's heat evaporates it

making it go up in the air it's still

necessary for wind to push the vapor

landward otherwise water would not reach

the continents the vegetation would die

and large extensions would dry up the

part where the Amazon enters this

scenario is by enhancing the function of

trade winds the Amazon attracts air and

it also retains the groundwater this is

a fascinating hypothesis it claims that

forests are also responsible for the

generation of winds because the trees

transpiration creates vapor that

condenses when it cools condensation

lowers air pressure creating a vacuum

that sucks air out of the ocean toward

the continent this process multiplied by

the 600 billion trees in the Amazon

produces strong humid winds almost like

flying rivers coming from the Atlantic

and thus the clouds and rain that

hydrate the continent are created now in

the continent we find the Andes

Mountains they receive the water brought

by the winds hold it in their vegetation

and distribute it all over the land

through the rivers and the rivers carry

water back to the ocean restarting the

process with this we've covered the

water cycle now let's look at the

temperature we know carbon dioxide acts

as a barrier that prevents

heat from leaving earth this is the

famous greenhouse effect well trees

counteract that effect by absorbing

atmospheric carbon dioxide in

photosynthesis via this process

aided by underground carbon dioxide

deposits the Amazon removes more than a

trillion tons of this gas every year

thereby delaying global warming which is

a consequence of our excessive

production of greenhouse gases there's

another way the amazon regulates

temperature by making clouds it turns

out clouds especially the whiter ones

reflects sunlight preventing it from

reaching the ground and heating us too

much the thick Amazon rainforest stores

large amounts of water in its roots so

evaporation and plant transpiration

generates seven times more vapor than

does the ocean which means many more

clouds that reflect more sunlight in

short regulating the amount of oxygen

and carbon dioxide keeping temperature

within certain limits and participating

in the water cycle by creating winds and

keeping water in the ground are some of

the functions that the Amazon performs

in tandem with the Atlantic Ocean and

the Andes Mountains however we still

don't have the full picture what are we

missing animal life

we've all heard for example about the

importance of birds for the

dissemination of tree seeds but every

animal every plant every insect even

fungi and minerals all of them play an

important role in Earth's physical

chemical and biological processes

because looking at it from a broader

perspective the earth is one single

system a self-regulating organism every

being that lives on earth is therefore a

part of the big planetary organism so

the resilience of the whole depends on

the participation of each one animals

make a notable contribution with their

possibilities of movement and metabolism

but there's one particular animal

capable of transforming earth in

previously unseen ways humans humans and

earth the world is inhabited by various

cultures with diverse customs and

beliefs the Amazon natives as well as

Western society are human groups that

like all of us are part of the big plan

three organism but these two groups

customs and beliefs imply very different

relationships between them and the rest

of nature what kind of relationships

have they had with the Amazon let's

start with the indigenous peoples

although there are more than 400

different cultures living in the jungle

all of them actually share a common way

of relating to nature in their thought

and their practice they become one with

the air the water the vegetation and the

animals so they acknowledge that their

bodies and their very lives are

interdependent with the jungle and

therefore act as the jungles partners

for thousands of years of ties between

the Amazon and the indigenous peoples

life has been completely sustainable in

all its diversity it would be a mistake

to assume that they manage this by

refraining from transforming nature

there's evidence that one tenth of the

amazon highlands used to be fertile land

developed for human use we also know

that they have influenced the selection

of species for ritual and culinary use

after all they reached populations of

millions living in the forest how did

they achieve this balance with knowledge

indigenous education prepares

individuals to live in harmony with

their natural and social surroundings it

teaches respect for the cosmic guardian

spirits and this leads them to use

resources responsibly and to understand

that consumption affects the flow and

distribution of energy in the global

system as a result their practices are

consistent with these ideas and they

seek to preserve the balance that their

actions touch so for example the Amazon

natives used to resettle every 20 years

in order to let nature regenerate

what about Westerners well their

relationship has been different instead

of feeling integrated in a totality

Westerners have thought of themselves in

an isolated manner in their process of

cultural construction they often create

a particular dichotomy between nature

and society they insistently resort to

nature for raw materials to build and

sustain the space they've made for

themselves the city for this reason the

Amazon has served them as a source of

wood and oil and proved an obstacle to

the raising of life's

to name but two of the processes that

end up destroying the balance between

the forest and its creatures it has been

in some an incomplete understanding of

natural balance with undesirable

consequences for life

only now have Westerners begun to

realize the importance of sustainable

growth for their civilization for that

precise reason we have started a great

worldwide ecological discussion today we

want to say that a very important step

towards sustainability is ensuring the

preservation of the Amazon and it's

connection to the Andes Mountains and

the Atlantic Ocean because this

ecosystem doesn't perform all those

ecological functions as just a group of

trees and rivers far from that the

forests the ocean and the mountains must

be an ecological continuum for the flow

of energy and information this entails

the flow of land rivers and air rivers

oxygen carbon dioxide and other

chemicals sedimentary rocks as well as

genetic information and cultural

practices so that all these elements

together guarantee the diversity that

gives more resilience to the whole

system the work done so far has been

very important and a great part of the

territory that needs to be integrated

into sustainable models has already been

protected governments have made an

effort to create protected areas and

recognize indigenous territories but

there are still some areas that need

protection in order to guarantee a full

connectivity this connectivity will not

only strengthen the environment services

the planet's resilience and climate

stability but it will also give us the

opportunity to join forces with

indigenous peoples to rethink our

relationship with earth what is the best

way to relate to it what makes up our

wealth what does our future depend on

this is an opportunity that can inspire

us all leaders and citizens to look

together for answers and make the right

choices for us as part of one big global

system our planet Earth