"We know there will be problems in environmental terms, many serious problems, but it is a matter of economics. There won't be any complete disaster, and what we cannot solve, well, that's the price we have to pay."
- Eduardo Albuquerque Barbosa

There is a constant war that is being fought in the rainforests of South America. The death toll is one that far surpasses any other war in history. Vietnam and World War II had minimal loss of life compared to this never-ending battle. It is predicted that by the year 2020, the casualties will reach 150 per day. This total does not even include the loss of human life
due to the lack of oxygen and the horrible living conditions. This
terrible scenario would be the result of mankind's failure to cooperate and live in harmony with the environment, especially the rainforest of South America. In the end, the destruction of the rainforests will mean the destruction of mankind.
The devastation of the rainforest may be compared to playing a game of Russian Roulette. One-forth of existing medicines comes from tropical plants whose homes are in the rainforests of South America. For every acre that is lost in the burning season, there is one acre less that we have for possible life saving medicines. About 70 percent of plants used in anti-cancer drug come are the rain forest. We are slowly destroying the environment and ourselves. Whether we realize it or not,
the world could quickly come to an ecological stop. Every day 144,000 acres of the rainforests are cut down, slashed and/or put up in flames.
In 1974, Brazil started a forest fire of 20.6 million square feet (3,900 square miles). The fire ragged out of control and was later marked the largest forest fire in Brazilian history. This 1974 fire is now considered small to others in the past recent years. On average the burning season lasts up to four months out of the whole year. During this period of time, it is not unusual for most of South America to be covered in a thick blanket of smoke. The bulk of these fires, when combined, are equivalent to the great inferno of 1988 at Yellow Stone National Park. Emitted from these devastating fires every year are billions of carcinogens and poisonous gases that stay in our atmosphere. The gases and pollution have been building for many years, and scientists believe that the atmosphere is due to reach its saturation point very soon.
The greed for money and lust for land are just two flames at the heart of the fire. At the expense of innocent lives of rainforest dwelling animals and local environmentalists, large corporations can some how justify their murderous ways. Rainforests cover only a mere seven percent of the Earth's land surface, yet they contain 50 percent of the world's species. Along with the thousands of animals in these century old forests, there are many tribes of Indians who are subjected to torment and usually death by their companies. Heartless Corporations such as Endesa, Arboriente and PICOP ignore the blockades of the FPA, "Forest Peoples' Alliance", and the perpetual pleas of the Scientist's who predict, "tropical species are disappearing at a rate that could conceivably reach as high as 150 species a day by the year 2020" Landry, (5). Unfortunately this battle is about to economics versus environment, and so far the environment is losing the war.
Chico Mendes' death finally brought the much-needed worldwide attention to the rainforests. Until 1988 the astonishing figures produced by environmentalists and scientists never had much weight for people of countries outside of the Amazon Rain Forest. The death of Mendes was the second death of a NCRT, National Council of Rubber Tappers, member in recent times. The fight, " at first, was only about ecology, and defending the fishes, the animals, the forest, and the river. They didn't realize that
Humans were also in the forest" Rodrigues, Revkin (1). Though Chico was a rubber tapper in the town of Xapuri, he spent most of the year traveling around the world trying to gain support in his fight against the destruction of the rainforest. Chico's non-violent approach won him much favor from the United States and all of the other rubber tappers. Chico Mendes