3 ways the Amazon is keeping all of us alive and why we should keep it alive in return

The Amazon rainforest is called "the lungs of our planet."

And nope, that's not an exaggeration at all.


The Amazon provides up to 20% of the Earth's oxygen...

Yes, it's true. In 2013, the Amazon was estimated to have close to 400 billion trees, which is close to the number of stars in our galaxy! Those trees absorb about 1 billion tons of CO2 per year (down from 2 billion tons in the 1990s).

The Amazon trees then transform the carbon dioxide into oxygen, and that's how we get fresh air. This means the Amazon can also help regulate climate, because CO2 and similar gases contribute to rising global temperatures.

...and contains 20% of the world's fresh water.

The Amazon Basin is pretty huge, measuring up to 2.6 million square miles. That's 40% of South America.

It has a TON of species that could hold the cures for cancer or HIV.

Botanist Mateus Paciencia has faith that the Amazon could churn out almost-magical substances that would rock the world of medicine. Chances are, it *has* to have something that spectacular.

"The Amazon has something like 20% of all the biodiversity in the world. Just in terms of plants with flowers, there are around 22 or 23 thousand. It is impossible to imagine that ... not one of them will have an active substance for some disease."
— Botanist Mateus Paciencia

Basically, the Amazon is a living, breathing wonder.

We Earthlings are lucky to have it.

But the Amazon is in trouble.

Drilling. Deforestation. Oil pollution.




Which means...

Those carbon-dioxide absorbing trees are being chopped down. Those rivers are being polluted. And those plant and animal species are facing threat of extinction.

Trouble for the Amazon means trouble for the globe.

Thankfully, we've got some heroes who are standing up for the Amazon.

What these indigenous tribes are doing to save the Amazon is saving their communities. But they're also saving the rest of us, too. Every step they take to push back and preserve the Amazon helps ensure that the rest of the world won't suffer from the rainforest's destruction.

Watch what these amazing tribes are doing. Be grateful. And then spread the word.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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Norton

This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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