A Life to Live
The Amazon and it’s Indigenous People
The Amazon River is the greatest expression of life on earth. The rainforest holds answers to questions we have yet to ask. But it is rapidly disappearing.
The Amazon River is by far the world’s largest river by volume. It has over 1,100 tributaries, 17 of which are longer than 1000 miles. The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world, covering 1.4 billion acres.
The Amazon is home to more species of plants and animals than any other terrestrial ecosystem on the planet — perhaps 30 percent of the world’s species are found there.
Although indigenous people have lived on their lands for thousands of years, they do not own it, because they have not filed “deeds” of land and do not possess a “title.” Therefore governments and other outsiders do not recognize their rights to the land. Indigenous peoples possess an enormous body of almost irreplaceable information and skills about living in the rainforest without destroying it.
“Within the next few decades, the fate of the world’s remaining indigenous peoples, the fragile environments they occupy, and the valuable knowledge that they embody could well be decided once and for all. A number of individuals, corporations, and states are already pursuing their own “final solutions.”
The 20th century will be remembered either as the century when we destroyed much of the Earth’s genetic and cultural diversity, or the century when peoples learned to live together and share their knowledge in order to maintain the diversity upon which we all depend. Great civilizations like the Mayas, Incas, and Aztecs developed complex societies and made great contributions to science. Living from nature and lacking the technology to dominate their environment, native peoples have learned to watch their surroundings and understand the intricacies of the rainforest. Over generations these people have learned the importance of living within their environment and have come to rely on the countless renewable benefits that forests can provide.
Cattle ranching accounts for roughly 70 percent of deforestation in the Amazon. The world’s forests need to be seen for what they are—giant global utilities, providing essential public services to humanity on a vast scale. They store carbon, which is lost to the atmosphere when they burn, increasing global warming. The life they support cleans the atmosphere of pollutants and feeds it with moisture. They act as a natural thermostat, helping to regulate our climate and sustain the lives of 1.4 billion of the poorest people on this Earth. And they do these things to a degree that is all but impossible to imagine.