The Final Frontier This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     It is dark, but not so dark that you can’t see the vibrant greens, pinks and browns. Some sounds are unfamiliar. When you look up, you see a vast, secretive yet beautiful canopy of leaves. Though there are animal calls all around, you have a feeling of peace. You feel as if you have stumbled on something ancient, something primitive, something precious. Welcome, my friend, to the rainforest.

You can help preserve one of the best things earth has to offer. The rainforests of the world have been here for thousands of years and are home to all sorts of animals, both discovered and undiscovered. How do I know some are still unknown? Well, according to rain-tree.com, there are approximately 10 million species of animals on earth, although only 1.4 million have been found. The rainforest is the final frontier: most scientists think that many undiscovered species exist here. We are losing approximately 137 species of animals, plants and insects every day through deforestation. The odds are we have already destroyed a great deal of the unknown species.

We are picking at the rainforest like moths in a closet of wool sweaters. When the closet is finally opened, Mom won’t be happy to find all the holes in our sweaters. The more we destroy, the more we suffer. Did you know that in 40 years, the Amazon rainforest could be completely gone? I want to be able to take my grandchildren to the rainforest, not just show them pictures.

When you think about it, we are creating our own downfall! As we take away the trees, the temperature rises. That’s right, folks. We created our own global warming due to this and other reasons. Trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, the gas we breathe. If we keep cutting down trees, there is excess carbon dioxide which increases the temperature. The rainforest has millions upon billions of trees, so if we keep destroying it, we are more or less heating our planet to death.

Speaking of death, did you know we could cure, or at least sustain, people who have deadly diseases with plants from the rainforest? The rainforest hosts current and possible drugs, maybe even cures, for viruses and infections. Over 120 prescription drugs come from plants in the rainforest. Vincristine, a drug extracted from periwinkle from the Amazon rainforest, increased the survival rate for children with leukemia from 20 to 80 percent. Thanks to humans, periwinkle is now extinct in the wild and is only grown in captivity. These rainforest drugs can save lives! If we keep destroying it, we will be destroyed.

Five centuries ago, there were ten million natives living there, including medicine men with cures we could have used and tribes that probably saw creatures we have only dreamed about. We will probably never know though, for we have destroyed a good portion of their home, and only about 200,000 Indians remain. I don’t know about you, but to me that is as terrible as murder.

How can we help keep the rainforest alive and well? For one, we could be more resourceful and try using alternatives to wood. Instead of buying countless wooden toothpicks or chopsticks, buy reusable plastic ones. If there is less demand for lumber, they will not cut as much.

Did you notice that in their campaigns, the presidential candidates were basically silent about environmental issues? So, take the time to write a letter to your state representatives and President Bush; it could make a difference. I was once told that “all precious things are worth saving.” Well, the rainforest has proved itself more than precious, and since we burn 158,000 acres each minute, it is in need of saving. Don’t become an always-takes-stuff-for-granted kind of person. Have a heart. Save the rainforest.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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