So, the Brazilian rain forest is starting to disappear again; maybe due to poachers harvesting illegally, maybe due to farmers, maybe due to something else. Results are still coming in, and it's probably more than just one factor. Silva (ironic name, no?) has promised to do something about it, but obviously, no one really has things under control. Now, as the rain forests decrease in size they stop soaking up so much carbon, which means that global warming is just going to get worse. This means wilder weather patterns, higher water levels, and things just generally going to the dogs.
This is also really bad for Brazil, because these forests are holding down the topsoil, such as it is, and while a rain forest may not be as profitable as a field of soy beans in the short run, it is a whole lot better than a barren wasteland in 10 years. Plus the forest keeps the watershed healthy, preventing floods and mudslides, and keeping the water from washing away even more nutrients. It keeps the ground in the shade, and that keeps the soil from drying out and blowing away.
And while it may not matter to Brazil or the global economy, this deforestation means hundreds of species going extinct. A lot of people think this these species are worth keeping on their own recognition. Some try to justify keeping them because we might be able to make new drugs out of them or 'learn something important' from various genotypes, but really, the real reason most people want to keep these plants and animals around is because there is some inherent value to diversity of life, and once we kill off a species we can never have that species back.
The problem is that no one really has any good suggestions about how to save the rain forest. You can't go down there and start shooting illegal poachers yourself (well, you could), you can't plant new rain forest (and if you could, it would take centuries to grow back to what it once was, and by that time all the original forest would be gone), and you can't even count that buying forest lands will protect it from the people destroying it. No one actually goes down there to live in the jungle and make sure no one touches anything.
So another vital part of our world is going down the drain and all we can do about it is rant on our blogs.
And that's my rant.