The Breath of Life
The planet is losing more and more of its rainforests every year. Do you know how important our rainforests are for our survival? Do you know forests are some of the most, if not the most sacred spots on this earth? Do you want to know why early Christians made the term heathen a bad name? It didn’t mean someone ungodly. Actually it meant one who was very godly. The term heathen originally meant one who is from the heath. The heath meant forest. They were the people who knew the mysteries of the forest. Entire cultures and spiritual systems were built around the forest. Everywhere so-called civilization went, the trees and forests were destroyed. In Nigeria, ninety-five (95%) percent of the rainforest no longer exist. According to focusonforest.org, “Nigeria, once in the heart of the tropical rainforest belt, has lost about ninety-five (95%) of its total forest cover and now has to import 75% of the timber it needs for its own purposes.”
If your entire spiritual system is built around the sacredness of trees and the forest, what does that mean for your spiritual system and your culture, when the trees are being destroyed?
Rainforests makeup six (6%) percent of the planet earth, but contain nearly two-thirds of the earth’s animal and plant life. It was just a few hundred years ago rain forests made up 12% of the earth’s surface. With that said, we are losing 6000 acres of rainforest an hour (that’s about 4000 football fields an hour) and 144,000 acres a day, which is 96,000 football fields. According to a study done by the World Bank, ninety-one (91%) percent of the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon is due to cattle ranching (1).
Trees are very sacred and are the most sacred symbols in religion, mythology, and culture. It is trees and plants that provide us with the breath of life (oxygen). The importance of rainforests are undeniable, but we must not forget our estuaries. Estuaries have more life per square inch than rainforests. As for as ecosystems go, estuaries are the most productive on earth.
So you want to know what is an estuary?
An estuary is where freshwater meets saltwater, i.e. where a river or stream meets the sea or ocean. These are your coastal areas like the Mississippi river meeting the Gulf of Mexico or the Hudson river meeting the Atlantic Ocean.
Our estuaries and the wildlife that comes from it are in trouble. The oil spill in the Gulf is devastating, but people we must understand that this is nothing new. Did you know that in the Niger Delta in Nigeria over the last 50 years, there have been oil spills nearly once a week? This is according to the New York Times. The Niger Delta has averaged nearly 11 million gallons in oil spills a year for the last 50 years. It is estimated that about 546 million gallons have spilled in the Niger Delta (2). According to Guardian.co.uk, ” more oil spilled from Nigeria’s Niger Delta every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico.” It goes on to say that “with 606 oilfields, the Niger delta supplies forty (40%) percent of all the crude the United States imports and is the world capital of oil pollution and that life expectancy in the delta region has drop near the age of 40 in the last two generations (3).
This is of importance because the Niger Delta contains the “3rd largest contiguous mangrove forest in the World”, according to the Mangrove Action Project, a global network organization dedicated to saving mangroves (4).
Rainforests by the Sea
The trees in the mangroves are salt tolerant because mangroves are rainforests by the sea. They’re a part of estuaries and are important to game fish species and commercial species. We need things in nature to survive. For we are all one, and right now at this moment in history, humanity as a whole is not being to loving to the rest of our earthly family. We can make initial steps in bringing awareness to the situation and also we can make be part of the change by making sure the public pushes for the use of the technology that will assist the major corporations in cleaning up this mess.
Last but not least, the Nigerian government must also be held accountable, and speak out and stop this kind of thing from happening. So mote it be!
Christopher W. Brown
1. Margulis Sergio, Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon, 9