Pollution in the Amazon

The Amazon Rainforest is home to 20 percent of the plant and animal species on Earth and is known as the “Lungs of the World,” because it pumps oxygen into the atmosphere and removes carbon dioxide. Pollution is impacting both the Amazon River and Amazon Rainforest, and contributing to global warming.

The Amazon River is the world’s second-longest river, and the largest in terms of volume. The Amazon River is home to one-fifth of Earth’s fresh water and contains minerals that are vital to fertilizing the land in the Amazon rainforest. Logging is a primary contributor to water pollution in the Amazon river, as is gold mining, which is causing mercury pollution.

It’s estimated that more than half of the Amazon’s forests could vanish by the year 2030. This would cause billions of tons of harmful carbon dioxide gas — the main greenhouse gas — to be released into the Earth’s atmosphere.

While trees have been cleared to build eco-friendly hydroelectric dams, the dams trap silt that damages ecosystems. In addition, as agriculture in the Amazon switches from small-scale to large-scale, trees are being cut down and the water and surrounding soil are being polluted by pesticides and fertilizers.

Research demonstrates that global warming is being directly impacted by the increased amounts of carbon dioxide and methane gases released into the atmosphere from areas such as the Amazon. This increase in greenhouse gases is connected to the loss of soil and plants that normally serve to remove greenhouse from the atmosphere. It is possible that by the year 2050, the Amazon will be a primary contributor of greenhouse gases, instead of a primary source for removing the gases from the atmosphere.

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