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The Amazon River

Essay by   •  November 8, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,717 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,952 Views

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The Amazon River

The Amazon River is an amazing work of nature. The cultures that make the Amazon their home are were very well adapted before the Europeans came. The Amazon is being destroyed and people are blind to the damages they're doing. The Amazon effects more than just the people living near by, it effects the world.

The Amazon River is the second longest river in world. The headwaters begin high in the soaring Andes Mountains and stretches 6,400 km across the South American continent to the Atlantic Ocean. It discharges between 34 to 121 million liters of water per second, and depositing an average of 3 million tons of sediments near its mouth. The outpouring of water and residue is so vast that the salt content and the color of the Atlantic Ocean are altered for a distance of about 320km from the mouth of the river. Also, unlike many other rivers it's wide and straight from the headwaters to the mouth. During a new or full moon, a wave front from the ocean sweeps 650km upstream at speeds of 65km/h and this causes waves as high as 5m. Because of its vastness, annual floods, and navigability, the Amazon River is often called the Ocean River. The Amazon River is the largest and wettest tropical plain on Earth with heavy rains.

Europeans were not the original keepers of this vast rainforest. The Amazonians are trapped between the old and new customs, and since they have traditions, their technology is not as modern as the rest of the worlds. They live on the richest land with a wide variety of flora and fauna. With such great resources, including the river as transportation, almost anybody would want to seize the land and gain profits easily. The Amazonians have little power to defend themselves with spears against their guns. Unfortunately, the outside world has brought them diseases that are incurable with their own medicine. They cannot exist in the way they were before, but they know the Amazon better than any of us. If the rich businessmen listened to them instead of stealing from them, they might be able to improve the usage of the Amazon.

All the tributaries merge into the Amazon River, but not all have an identical color. White-water rivers, the ice and snow from the Andes Mountains washes off soil nutrients from the rocks, allowing the water to have a dirty yellowish color. Clear-water rivers are azure-green in color; they barely contain any sediment. These rivers arise from the highlands that are created by hard rock that doesn't easily erode. Dark black-water river of the Rio Negro washes over old rocks, which are rich in minerals.

The name Amazon just isn't any old name. From a Greek myth, Francisco de Orellana was a Spanish Conquistador; he was the first European to travel the length of the Amazon River in 1541-42. As he ventured, Orellana ran into a tribe of fierce women warriors, each doing as much fighting as ten Indian men. Orellana recalled the Greek Myth of warrior women and named the entire river Amazonas.

The Amazon River is extraordinary. For those who lived there a thousand years, flowing with tradition, call it home. And there are those who resided here to spread the Gospel, others come for money. Whatever the reason, all the people establish a diverse realm with all the cultures blending together. This is what forms the unique life style of the people of the Amazon River.

The climate around the Amazon River is usually tropical; this region spans the globe along the equator. Whether it is Africa or India, they still share the same weather as the Amazon River. There are two seasons, rainy and dry. During a dry spell, it may rain only 30-100 inches, whereas the banks will flood heavily in the rainy season.

In the past, large glacial ice masses encroached upon the continents, places like the Amazon rainforest became a refuge for creatures since the overall temperatures stayed pretty constant and forest had warm weather. Animals crept toward the tropics by locomotory, but plants moved even slowly because the only way they could move is by seed dispersion. Seeds that dispersed closer to the Amazon had a better chance of surviving than those seeds that were dispersed away from the tropics. This is the reason why there are a great variety of animals and plants; there are countless ones that have never even been discovered.

The major contribution the climate gives to the Amazon is the vast amount of precipitation, humidity, and heat. Even if it does rain almost everyday, there is a rainy season. Throughout this period, the majority of precipitation falls and raises the levels of many rivers and floods nearby forests and villages. Though flooding may be beneficial to the environment, it is a problem for residents who live around flood banks or close to the rivers. As the immense amounts of rain collects into the Amazon Basin, people have adapted by constructing houses on stilts so that it allows water to pass below the it or by building houses on rafts so that the whole house rises during a flood. Flooding may be a benefit to some species. Many plants have adapted to the seasonal flooding as a way to disperse seeds. Sometimes, fruit ripens during the flood season and aquatic animals eat them, helping to disperse seeds in new locations.

At times like now, temperatures of the rainforests and surrounding areas are peculiarly warmer than usual. Many plants and animals have adapted to certain temperatures of their habitation. However, when temperatures start to rise, they find it harder to survive in intolerable environments. If the water continues to become warmer, some species may become extinct. How can they live through lingering droughts or floods? Humans are the main causes of these harmful effects. Because of industrial wastes, unleashed carbon and methane have burned a hole through the ozone layer. But others predict that the planet is going through climatic changes that have occurred periodically in the past. Biodiversity will not be able to survive in excruciating ecosystem as well as humans could.

The Amazon is made up of a broad spectrum of diverse people.

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