The Causes of the Amazon River Pollution
The Amazon River is the second largest river in the world and regarded as highly important because it drains a fifth of the earth’s fresh water into the oceans. This helps reduce salinity in the ocean water. This river is also important for the maintenance of the Amazon Rainforest. Together, the pair is referred to as the Amazon and scientists often call them “the lungs of the earth”. The Amazon on its own plays a central role in determination of the earth’s climate.
The people living around the Amazon River also rely on it for water, food, livelihood and different recreational activities. Over the years, the governments of many countries in South America through which the river flows have started developmental projects to enhance civilization around the region. This has led to pollution of both the river and the rainforest.
Causes of the Amazon River pollution
There are many reasons behind the pollution of the Amazon River. These include:
- Mining activities. The Amazon is known for its minerals and these include bauxite, iron, nickel, tin and gold. Many miners have encroached this area with the aim of exploiting some of these resources. This has had a negative impact on the Amazon River. Explosives used not only disturb the ecosystem living within and around the river, but also pollutes the water directly.
- Poor transport vessels. Most of the locals who use the Amazon River as a transport route do not have technologically and environmental friendly water vessels. They use old boats which have engines made out of old motor vehicle turbines. Such vessels pollute the river because they spill oil as they traverse the river, killing the plants and animals that thrive in its waters.
- Large number of settlers. Unlike in the old times, many immigrants have settled along the banks of the Amazon River in order to exploit different opportunities. In fact, environmentalists estimate that 20% of the rainforest has been destroyed because of human related activities including settlement. These settlers have polluted the river through their day to day activities because there are no stringent regulations to protect the river and rainforest from their encroachment.
- With the different human activities that are being undertaken around the Amazon, there is widespread deforestation of the rainforest. Trees are being cleared for farming, cattle keeping, mining and charcoal burning amongst other activities. This affects the flow of the river because the forest helps to sustain it.
- Poor fishing techniques. The fishermen along the Amazon River use bad fishing techniques to catch their fish. As a result, many other creatures such as turtles end up being captured in the nets by accident. This has led to depletion of the living organisms that thrive in the Amazon River. Additionally, these fishermen also fish dolphins and other endemic species of animals that are only found in this river. This leads to extinction of such animals.
- Massive damming projects. Peru, Colombia and Brazil all have damming projects to divert the water from the river into other areas where they can be used for different activities. These damming projects have reduced the amount of water flowing into the river hence degrading the Amazon.
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