We Must Save the Amazon's Water Before it's Too Late, Scientists Say
A man navigates his boat along the Lorencillo River in the municipality of Ciudad Constitucion in Peru's Amazon, Oct. 27, 2015. Photo: AP/Rodrigo Abd Scientists are worried about the plants, animals and water in a place called the Amazon. They are also worried about the people. The Amazon is the world's biggest rain forest. It covers almost half of South America, one of the world's seven continents. South America is below North America, where the United States is. The trees grow close together in the Amazon. The rain forest is very warm. It gets plenty of rain. There are many rivers, streams and lakes in the rain forest. It is home to many different plants, animals and people. The Amazon has the most rivers, streams and lakes in the world. They all flow into the Amazon River.
The Amazon's rivers, lakes and streams are very important - and they are in trouble.
Leandro Castello is a scientist from the state of Virginia. He helped care for fish in the Amazon. Castello says he is sad that more people do not know about the water problem there. The rivers, lakes and streams do important things. They move water through the rain forest and take care of the Earth. Many plants, animals and fish live in the rain forest's rivers, lakes and streams. People who live in the Amazon need the rivers, lakes and streams, too. One problem is the dams. These are the walls that people have built to control the water in the rivers and streams. The water gets blocked up in pools. Fish and other animals cannot move through. Gold mining is another problem. People dig through the bottom of rivers and streams looking for gold. It can poison the water.
Fewer Trees, Less Rain
Cutting down trees hurts the rivers, lakes and streams. Trees have an important job, Castello says. Trees take water from the Earth and send it out through their leaves and into the air. When there are fewer trees, water runs back into the rivers and brings loose dirt with it. Cutting down trees can also cause it to rain less.
Too Hot to Handle
Climate Change adds to the problem. People burn fuel for energy. Cars, lights and many other things run on this energy. Burning fuel makes gas. The gas gets trapped in the air. It stores heat and makes the world warmer. As the Amazon warms up, there may be less rain and more bad storms. Some streams might even disappear. Castello says leaders need to come up with a plan to help the Amazon. They need to protect the trees, the land and the water.