Rainforests act as pollution sinks -- a process by which greenhouse gas is removed from the atmosphere -- by soaking up carbon dioxide and neutralising it. Air pollution seriously threatens the rainforest's ability to regulate climate patterns. Greenhouse gases are stored there and are released back into the atmosphere to further contribute to global warming.
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Acid rain is one of the most serious types of rainforest pollution because it releases toxic substances, such as aluminium, into the soil. Acidic water dissolves the nutrients in the soil and washes them away before trees and other plants can use them to grow. It can slow the growth of forests by weakening trees and damaging their leaves, exposing them to toxic substances that are released from the acidic soil.
Trees improve air quality by trapping carbon and other particles produced by pollution. They cool and regulate the Earth's climate. When rainforests are cleared to make room for agricultural crops, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. The cleared rainforest area is lost as a pollution sink, which further magnifies air pollution problems.
Rainforests clean the environment and help to prolong the human race. So when waste is dumped into rainforests by industrial activities, or companies carelessly squander resources, it creates toxic wastes that act as pollution recipients. For example, Texaco, in its zeal to produce oil, dumped millions of gallons of toxic waste in an Ecuadorean rainforest. Other industries, like logging, deplete the nutrients required for rainforest ecosystems by removing trees.
Infrastructure such as roads, canals, power lines and gas lines could be the biggest threat for the world's tropical rainforests, according to scientists at James Cook University. The best way to promote conservation of rainforests and their ecosystem services is to limit the infrastructure that promotes their degradation. The population growth and rapid economic development in many developing nations create the impetus for the expansion of road and infrastructure developments.
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- "Tropical-Rainforest-Animals.com"; Environmental Pollution and Tropical Rainforests
- United States Environmental Protection Agency - Acid Rain"; Effects of Acid Rain (How Acid Rain Harms Trees)
- "James Cook University"; Roads Top Threat to Rainforests; 2009
- "The Choice: Doomsday or Arbor Day"; Jocelyn Stock and Andy Rocken