South America is a place of striking beauty and wonder. The heart of this continent is the Amazon Rainforest, a vast paradise watered by one of the world’s greatest rivers. Because of the tremendous amount of oxygen produced in this area, it has been called the “lungs of the earth.”
A team of scientists, teachers, and students, the AmazonQuest team, recently explored some of the wonders of the Amazon Rainforest. They canoed down rivers, hiked along muddy trails, and climbed into the forest to explore and learn. The following is a report by one of the team members:
“I watched a small piece of the Amazon Rainforest disappear today. This morning, two men from the village of Roaboia led us into the forest. For 20 minutes, we walked along a path past tall weeds, banana trees, and low brush. Our destination was a 150-foot tall capirana tree, by far the biggest tree around. It would take 10 people holding hands to surround the base of its trunk.
The men took out an axe and an electric saw and started cutting into the tree’s silky smooth skin. As beautiful as they are, people here chop down capirana trees for their wood. With a loud roar, the saw chewed into the 150-year old tree. Then, in about 30 minutes after the cutting began, the giant tree crashed down violently and shook the ground under our feet.
This, of course, is just one of the millions of trees that fall in the Amazon each year. Brazil’s Environmental Ministry estimates that in 1970, 99 percent of the original Amazon Rainforest remained, but in 2000, only 85 percent. It is estimated that more than 33 million acres of Amazonian Rainforest disappear every year. That means that 64 acres of the rainforest is lost every minute.” 【題組】
(1) Which place is called “the lungs of the earth”?