双语有声阅读:Saving the Rainforests for Future Generations 拯救热带雨林,造福子孙万代

Rainforests are being cut and burned form Brazil to Indonesia at such a rate that they could well disappear from the earth's surface before the year 2050. They are being cleared for valuable timber and other resources to speed up the economic growth of the nations in which they are located. The most recent figures show that the area of rainforest destroyed last year alone was bigger than the size of Great Britain and Ireland.


If the present rate of deforestation is allowed to continue, the consequences for the earth will be great. We shall see a massive upsetting of ecosystems, very large increases in soil erosion, increases in flooding and in drought, changes in rainfall patterns and regional, quite possibly global, changes in climate. We shall also probably lose many rare plant and animal species.


According to many scientists, the burning of rainforests is also directly contributing to the so-called greenhouse effect. This effect, they say, is raising average temperatures and sea levels as the polar ice caps recede.


The rainforest is essential in other areas also. It is a medicine chest of unlimited potential. The US National Cancer Institute has identified 2,000 rainforest plants which could be beneficial in fighting cancer. In today's pharmaceutical market, 15 of the 125 drugs derived from plants were discovered in the rainforest.


Plant species are not the only forms of life threatened with extinction in the rainforest. Rare birds and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world have been disappearing at the rate of one a year since the turn of the century.


In the face of all these facts, it seems senseless for countries to continue destroying their rainforests. However, the problem is not so simple. The countries in which the rainforests are located are all quite poor and overpopulated. One of them, Brazil, has a population of 140 million, about half of whom are living in absolute poverty. The governments in these countries are usually also too weak to stop large companies and powerful individuals from destroying the rainforests. They have no money, so when the poor whom they cannot feed find work cutting down trees or burning forestland, the governments often have no choice but to turn a blind eye. Moreover, for many of these countries, the valuable timber and other resources found in the rainforests are also a very important source of foreign exchange, which they badly need to pay off their foreign debts and purchase foreign equipment and other goods.


The only solution to the problem, then, seems to be for the richer countries of the world to help the countries where the rainforests are located. One way they could help would be by cancelling the international debts that countries like Brazil owe, while also working together with these countries to solve their other economic problems. At the same time, they could support programmes to teach the local people to regard the rainforests as gardens to be harvested, and not merely as places where the only way for them to make a living is by senselessly cutting down trees and burning.


Such programmes could teach the local people how to select trees worth exporting and to cut only those trees down while leaving the rest, so that the basic make-up of the forest would not be disturbed. This would also mean that the environment needed for the survival of the many rare species of animals and plants, as well as of the Indian tribes that live in the rainforest, could be preserved. The local people could also be taught to earn more money by cutting the selected trees and making them into furniture on the spot. In addition, they could learn how to harvest other valuable natural materials that are now being wasted, and sell them overseas to earn foreign exchange for their countries.


Last but not least, people in the richer countries of the world could also help save the rainforests by using wood-derived products such as paper more carefully and by recycling used paper products to help reduce the demand for newly cut wood.


从巴西到印尼,热带雨林正在被砍伐,正在被烧毁,其速度非常之快,以致于到不了2050年,热带雨林就会被砍光烧光而从地球表面上彻底消失。为了获取贵重木材和其他资源,以加速处于热带雨林国家的经济发展,热带雨林正在逐渐被砍伐得干干净净一棵树都不剩了。最近的统计数字表明,仅去年一年被吸掉的热带雨林的面积比英国和爱尔兰两国的面积加起来还大。


如果听任现在的热带雨林被毁掉的百分比继续发展下去,给整个地球所带来的后果将是十分严重的。我们将会看到(1) 各种生态系统的平衡均遭到大规模的破坏;(2)水土流失现象大规模地增加了;(3)水灾和旱灾大规模增加了;(4)降雨的方式改变了;(5)地区性的气候改变,甚至完全可能导致全球性气候的改变。我们也许会永远失去很多种珍稀的植物和动物。


根据许多科学家报告,烧毁了热带雨林也直接导致了所谓的温室效应。科学家们都说,这种温室效应正在使全球平均气温升高,正在使南极和北极地区的冰盖融化,随之而来的也正在使全球海洋的水平面上升。


从其他方面来看,热带雨林对人类也是必不可缺的。热带雨林是一个有着无限潜在能力的取之不尽用之不竭的医药资源的万宝库。美国国家癌症研究院已经证实了有2000种热带雨林中的植物对预防和治疗癌症有奇效。在今天的药品市场上,在125种单味药中,就有15种是从热带雨林中发现的植物中提取出来的。


各种植物在热带雨林中并不是受到灭种威胁的唯一的生物。世界上除了热带雨林而外,在其他任何地方都找不到的珍稀鸟类和珍稀动物,在这世纪交替的时候正在以每年消失一种的速度逐渐灭绝。


面对这一切事实,这些国家还在继续毁灭他们的热带雨林,这令人觉得他们简直太麻木不仁了。但是,这个问题并不是很简单的。地处于热带雨林的那些国家都相当贫穷而且人口都相当过剩。热带雨林国家之一,巴西,人口有一亿四千万人。其中约有半数人生活在绝对贫困当中。这些国家的政府通常也都是十分软弱的,以致不能制止一些大公司或有权有势的人毁坏热带雨林的行为。那些国家的政府都没有钱,所以当政府养活不起的那些穷人,找到了砍树或在森林里烧树开荒的工作时,政府别无选择,只好睁一只眼闭一只眼。况且,对这些国家中的有些国家来说,热带雨林中的珍贵木材和其他资源也是他们所急需换取外汇的很重要的资源,以便用来偿还外债和用来购买外国的设备和其他物资。

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