Originally posted by Ron Giesecke:
I'd like them to take this repulsive and oft-bantied statistic about how we "cut down an acre of rainforest a second and do something with that. If this were really true, then the space shuttle astronauts should be able to film what looks like a time-lapse erosion film in real time. It sounds good in the micro, but I'd like to see Discovery Channel, Earth First, or Sesame Street get away with:
We cut down 2,419,200 acres of rainforest a month.
Since we're already way off topic, I feel a little safe in quickly throwing this in:
The actual statistic has to do with the number of acres of rainforest that are destroyed, not cut down. Rainforests are as often burned as cut, and they're also receding due to the encroachment of industrialization on their boundaries.
Also, the statistic is worldwide. Approximately the equivalent of two U.S. football fields of rainforest is lost each second worldwide
, but not all in the same location, although the Brazilian and Amazon rainforests are being the hardest hit. Out of the approximately 1.5 billion acres that exist today (as opposed to the more than 2.7 billion acres that existed in 1950), two football fields a second doesn't seem like much (although it's enough, when combined with acceleration due to population growth, to destroy all the rainforests in about 30 years).
And the statistic is also an average. We don't literally have two football fields disappearing each second. There are periods of downtime during stormy and wet seasons when no clear-cutting or burning can occur. It's made up for during good weather.
As for views from outer space, yes, the burning fires, of which there are several thousand a day, can be seen and photographed from orbit, particularly at night. NASA, however, a government agency that has the charter of exploring space and a policy of NOT becoming involved in cultural or political hotbed issues, doesn't make a big deal of promoting them.
p.s. As a reciprocal effect, the amount of land mass that is classified as "desert" is growing by 27,000 square miles per year.