The Amazon River is the second longest river in world. The headwaters begin high in the soaring Andes Mountains and stretches 6,400 km across the South American continent to the Atlantic Ocean. It discharges between 34 to 121 million liters of water per second, and depositing an average of 3 million tons of sediments near its mouth. The outpouring of water and residue is so vast that the salt content and the color of the Atlantic Ocean are altered for a distance of about 320km from the mouth of the river. Also, unlike many other rivers it??s wide and straight from the headwaters to the mouth. During a new or full moon, a wave front from the ocean sweeps 650km upstream at speeds of 65km/h and this causes waves as high as 5m. Because of its vastness, annual floods, and navigability, the Amazon River is often called the Ocean River. The Amazon River is the largest and wettest tropical plain on Earth with heavy rains.
Europeans were not the original keepers of this vast rainforest. The Amazonians are trapped between the old and new customs, and since they have traditions, their technology isn??t as modern as the rest of the worlds??. They live on the richest land with a wide variety of flora and fauna. With such great resources, including the river as transportation, almost anybody would want to seize the land and gain profits easily. The Amazonians have little power to defend themselves with spears against their guns. Unfortunately, the outside world has brought them diseases that are incurable with their own medicine. They cannot exist in the way they were before, but they know the Amazon better than any of us. If the rich businessmen listened to them instead of stealing from them, they might be able to improve the usage of the Amazon.
All the tributaries merge into the Amazon River, but not all have an identical color. White-water rivers, the ice and snow from the Andes Mountains washes off soil nutrients from the rocks, allowing the water to have a dirty yellowish color. Clear-water rivers are azure-green in color; they barely contain any sediment. These rivers arise from the highlands that are created by hard rock that doesn??t easily erode. Dark black-water river of the Rio Negro washes over old rocks, which are rich in minerals.
The name ??Amazon?? just isn??t any old name. From a Greek myth, Francisco de Orellana was a Spanish Conquistador; he was the first European to travel the length of the Amazon River in 1541-42. As he ventured, Orellana ran into a tribe of fierce women warriors, each ??doing as much fighting as ten Indian men.?? Orellana recalled the Greek Myth of warrior women and named the entire river ??Amazonas.??
The Amazon River is extraordinary. For those who lived there a thousand years, flowing with tradition, call it home. And there are those who resided here to spread the Gospel, others come for money. Whatever the reason, all the people establish a diverse realm with all the cultures blending together. This is what forms the unique life style of the people of the Amazon River.
The climate around the Amazon River is usually tropical; this region spans the globe along the equator. Whether it is Africa or India, they still share the same weather as the Amazon River. There are two seasons, rainy and dry. During a dry spell, it may rain only 30-100 inches, whereas the banks will flood heavily in the rainy season.
In the past, large glacial ice masses encroached upon the continents, places like the Amazon rainforest became a refuge for creatures since the overall temperatures stayed pretty constant and forest had warm weather. Animals crept toward the tropics by locomotory, but plants moved even slowly because the only way they could move is by seed dispersion. Seeds that dispersed closer to the Amazon had a better chance of surviving than those seeds that were dispersed away from the tropics. This is the reason why there are a great variety of animals and plants; there are countless ones that have never even been discovered.
The major contribution the climate gives to the Amazon is the vast amount of precipitation, humidity, and heat. Even if it does rain almost everyday, there is a rainy season. Throughout this period, the majority of precipitation falls and raises the levels of many rivers and floods nearby forests and villages. Though flooding may be beneficial to the environment, it is a problem for residents who live around flood banks or close to the rivers. As the immense amounts of rain collects into the Amazon Basin, people have adapted by constructing houses on stilts so that it allows water to pass below the it or by building houses on rafts so that the whole house rises during a flood. Flooding may be a benefit to some species. Many plants have adapted to the seasonal flooding as a way to disperse seeds. Sometimes, fruit ripens during the flood season and aquatic animals eat them, helping to disperse seeds in new locations.
At times like now, temperatures of the rainforests and surrounding areas are peculiarly warmer than usual. Many plants and animals have adapted to certain temperatures of their habitation. However, when temperatures start to rise, they find it harder to survive in intolerable environments. If the water continues to become warmer, some species may become extinct. How can they live through lingering droughts or floods? Humans are the main causes of these harmful effects. Because of industrial wastes, unleashed carbon and methane have burned a hole through the ozone layer. But others predict that the planet is going through climatic changes that have occurred periodically in the past. Biodiversity will not be able to survive in excruciating ecosystem as well as humans could.
The Amazon is made up of a broad spectrum of diverse people. This ranges from Native Americans to poor settlers. They all make up a part of the interesting society that populates the Amazon. Modern culture swept over the Amazon when the Europeans first arrived. They saw themselves as well civilized humans but the Amazonians as dirty savages.
The Native Amazonians have called the Amazon Rainforest their home for over 20,000 years. Though they??re scattered throughout the continent, they have all developed their own ways of living in harmony with nature. They carefully use their natural resources and don??t waste them. There food, shelter, defense weapons, they share it-the key to survival. Amazonians do engage in warfare, never for territory, but to merely right wrongs done. The foreigners that came to the Amazon Rainforest a few hundred years ago threw off centuries of peace with nature.
The culture of the Europeans blend tighter with Amazonians to make the people of the river, a mixed breed who live with the river as their main route of transportation and home. Ranchers are usually God??s missionaries, proving that the Amazon is a wonderful place to make money by cattle. Loggers work to produce wood demanded by the market, seeing a way of fortune but losing the battle as woods become harder to find. The miners try their luck and seek gold.
Ever since Europeans came, they changed the way of life for the Amazonians forever. They were seen as low class, who had to be converted to Christianity and led by foreign rule. Soon, the two cultures began to clash against each other. The Amazonians are the true descendents of the people of the rainforest, even though the Europeans acted like the land belonged to them. As a result, there are only 140,000 Amazonians left today out of the millions that once thrived in the wilderness of the jungles. But there are also people who do not believe in the philosophy ??take all land.?? The next generation cannot live in the old society as before, but are creating their own, a mix between the two for the future.
One of the main places of our oxygen is the Amazon Rainforest. This mysterious land is being destroyed before we even had a chance to understand it. Interactions between direct threats such as logging and mining could wipe the Amazon Rainforest off the map. It only has 10 years until it can??t be saved. The climate might bring far less rain and loss of essential species that help sustain the rainforest ecosystem. Hunting and poaching are disrupting the food chain and the balance of nature. Already, the Amazon River Basin has been reduced by 25%. If this continues, the rainforest may never be the same again.
The rainforest should be healthy; that is the first priority. It should hold onto the rain and return it to the atmosphere to be recycled; this process is called evaporspiration. Without a healthy base of vegetation, water will run right off into the river. All the species depend on the rainforest and the rainforest depends on it. Insects help pollinate flowers and recycle fallen foliage. While birds and small animals help spread seed to clearings. All of nature relies on each other to outlast.
Large-scale developments began in 1980??s and cleared large sections of the rainforest?? s cover. The re-growth is not as diverse as the original over. Though the Brazilian government has strove to make effort and monitor development and protect the natural resources, deforestation continues. For every one person that is illegally destroying the rainforest, hundreds aren??t caught; the monitors are outnumbered. Burning the forest is reducing humidity greatly. Twenty-nine thousand square kilometers per year of deforestation is the size of Connecticut and New Jersey put together. A difficult issue calls for a difficult solution.
If our rainforest is further threatened, the high levels of precipitation brought by daily rain, which the rainforest needs, will soon lessen. Damage to the overall system will limit rain immeasurably. Less rain results in more forest fires; something overdone will definitely throw the balance askew.