The Earth’s tropical rainforests are vitally important to the health of all life on the planet. Although they comprise only 12 percent of the Earth’s land, rainforests are home to over 50 percent of all plant and animal species. The rainforests are important to humans even though most of us live outside them.
Rainforests are a major source of new medicines. Already, 25 percent of human medicine was derived from rainforest species. Doctors and scientists have yet to test 99 percent of the rainforest species for medical properties. If only one percent gave us 25 percent of our medicine, can you imagine how many medicines we could find if we are able to continue studying them before they become extinct? Many people believe the answer to all of our ailments lies inside the rainforest. We have just yet to find them.
Rainforests are also important for supplying a diverse variety of food. Currently, most of human life depends on about 20 different plants. Of the 75,000 different plants known to be edible, most people eat only about 150. If something were to happen to our twenty most important food sources, we would need to find alternatives in the rainforest.
Rainforests help to regulate the climate around the world. Much of the moisture released into the atmosphere to rain down in other needed locations is from rainforests. The rainforests are also important in conservation. Rainforests keep the soil from eroding into water sources. They also help to regulate water levels of the rivers. In addition, rainforests supply a lot of the Earth with its oxygen, which is required for the existence of all animal life. It is estimated that 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen comes from the rainforest.
The world’s rainforests are currently disappearing at the rate of 1.5 to 2.4 acres per second.
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