How heartening to read, in the descriptive words of the Cape Times recently, that the rainforests are “making a comeback.” Why they are simply not “regenerating,” “returning’ or “growing again” is, I suppose, a matter of language but nevertheless, we get the point. How wonderful. It’s the best news of the year so far, given the predictions that unless we cool the place down, we are due to become hot, flustered and dried out, like biltong in a few years time.
To cool down we must stop shredding the greenery and pumping noxious gases into the sky. After all look what happened to Mars. All that’s left of what scientists believe may have been life up there, according to the latest data beamed down to earth from the space probe, is a lonely cloud of methane gas.
Given that human beings seem to have a resistance to accepting good news, the report about forests hastens to add that even though the jungle greenery is growing — pun accepted — it may not be able to sustain as much biodiversity as the previous greenery once did. So, lets not feel too good, shall we that the planet could be saving itself.
The reason that the forests losing less ground, it appears, is that people who once lived there have moved to nearby cities so they are not clearing spaces to build villages anymore.
Scientists believe that humans have already destroyed as much as 12 million square kilometres of rainforest, or about half the tropical forests on the planet. The remaining forests are apparently disappearing at the rate of 13 million hectares a year – or in more digestible terms at the rate of 50 football fields a minute. What size football fields I am not sure but if they include stadiums and are the size of the flying saucer being built Green Point that sure is a lot of forest disappearing minute-by-minute— even while we sleep.
But if the forests can come back so can the birds. And I hope they do even although this may annoy the residents of Sea Point who I noticed, this week, have had lots of those shining little twirling pyramids stuck to the tops of their buildings. The flashing of sharp sunlight deflected off the pyramids apparently keeps the birds at bay and no doubt lowers the levels of irritation inflicted on the people of Sea Point by the gulls. And while they may be less irritated and have cleaner buildings the have also deprived their patch of sky of birds.
In her novel, Rainforest, writer Jenny Diski has her leading lady doing research on regeneration in a rainforest. She gets very irritated and goes temporarily insane when a boyfriend arrives and moves one piece of string altering the grid she has meticulously created to define postage stamp size areas of the forest floor to study. What drives her rage is her loss of control. And that I guess is what will save us. When we accept that we cannot control our environment but have to learn to live harmony with it to survive, we will.