Rain Forest

July 20, 2000

The Wall Street Journal's July 10 op-ed page had an interesting juxtaposition of editorials. The top editorial was on the bookseller Amazon.com. Underneath it was an editorial that could easily be called "Amazon.con." Philip Stott, a professor of biogeography at the University of London, believes we have been conned about the demise of the world's rain forests.

For some time I have seen articles and editorials questioning the numbers and the hyperbole surrounding the loss of rain forests. These are a needed corrective to some of the claims being made by environmentalists and news reporters. In fact, you can't get away from these claims even when you go on vacation. Last week I was at one of the world's best aquariums and read numerous plaques describing the imminent demise of our rain forests.

Well, Philip Scott wants us all to take a deep breath and calm down. When we see statistics suggesting that all the rain forests in the world will be gone in 10 years or 20 years, we need to ask if the numbers make sense. Perhaps you have seen statistics suggesting we lose a equivalent of a baseball field or a football field in rain forests every minute. Well, work the numbers and you can easily see this is pure hyperbole. All of the rain forests would be gone by now at that rate.

Here's a few relevant facts. New research in Brazil suggests that around 87.5% of the previously mapped areas of the Amazon remains largely intact. And of the 12.5% that has been deforested, one-third to one-half is fallow or in the process of regeneration.

So the next time your hear hysterical claims about the demise of the world's rain forests, take a moment to check the facts. It may not be quite the catastrophe we have been lead to believe that it is.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.