Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Save rainforest the easy way

Many environmentalists and activists have to work hard to try to save our rapidly shrinking rainforest. Now here is an easy way to save rainforest. All you need to do is what you do in your routine life, make purchases for things you need to purchase anyway. Is there an easier way to do it?

Before we go into the mechanism of this very easy way to protect rainforest, let us discuss about why rainforest are important for us passengers of Spaceship Earth without any lifeboat:

Importance of rainforest

Rainforests are forests with heavy rainfall. Some define rainforest as those forest with minimum rainfall of 68 inches to 78 inches (1750 mm and 2000 mm) of rain per year.

Rainforests are habitats of two thirds of all the living animal and plant species on earth with hundreds of millions of new species of plants, insects and microorganisms are still undiscovered. Tropical rain forests have many trees with medicinal values and thus often called the world's largest pharmacy". Quinine, the medicine for malaria, was first extracted from the bark of the South American cinchona tree in 1817 by French researchers Joseph Bienaimé Caventou and Pierre Joseph Pelletier. Some 120 other modern prescription drugs are derived from rainforest plants. U.S. National Cancer Institute says that more than two-thirds of medicines with cancer-fighting properties come from rainforest plants. These are just tip of the iceberg as huge number of rainforest trees and plants are still undiscovered and could be further source of life-saving medicine. Many scientists and researchers are working feverishly to identify and study, even preserve in some form, resources from rainforests before they are destroyed.

The foliage of the trees in the rainforests act as buffer for tropical rainstorm. Rain drops are caught in the leaves and only slowly drip down to the forest floor and there, they have time to seep into the ground and only a fraction of it end up as surface runoff that flow into the rivers. Chop down the trees and you remove this buffer, resulting in rainfall not having sufficient time to soak into the ground and most of it go into the surface runoff which eventually flow into the rivers resulting in floods downstream. See Save trees. Trees save.

Rainforest are also habitats for many diverse species of birds, insects and animals. Destroy the rainforest and you destroy their habitats and their chances of survival. The same goes for the human inhabitants of the rainforests.

Many also say that the rainforests are earth's lung, providing us with the vital oxygen without which we cannot live. Others says the rainforest is oxygen neutral, meaning it consume as much oxygen as it emits. The real green lung may be the algae and the phytoplankton in the ocean. Let us not get into any arguments over this, but the fact is significant amount of oxygen is generated by the tropical rainforest through the process of photosynthesis.

Save rainforest the easy way

How is this possible? Very simple. Do some Credit card comparison. When I did that, at the time of publishing this post, Co-operative Bank think credit card was in the second pager. Just apply for a Co-operative Bank think credit card there. The Co-operative Bank has partnered with Cool Earth. Now although the website just has the "name" Cool Earth, what is displayed in title bar (the bar right at the top of the page) says "Cool Earth Action - Keeping......."

From the Page Source:

<title>Cool Earth Action - Keeping carbon where it belongs - Home</title>

Cool Earth (or Cool Earth Action) is a registered charity with registered charity number with registration Charity Number 1117978.

I have to do due diligence, so surfed over to Regulators of Charities in England and Wales. Note that the URL of the home page is


which means that it is an official government website, not a private one. On searching for charities by number 1117978, I got to the page


Since that page may need annual reviews or something, and in case if you surf over there, and you get a 404 Page Not Found or something, here is the screenshot of what I saw:

Charity Commission Extract from the Central Register of Charities maintained by the Charity Commission for England and Wales

This showed that Cool Earth or Cool Earth Action is a registered charity in the Extract from the Central Register of Charities maintained by the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

With this new confidence, I can write more about what the Co-operative Bank in partnership with Cool Earth or Cool Earth Action is doing, which is as follows: when you get a new "think" credit card from the Co-operative Bank, and when you use the credit card for the first time, the Co-operative Bank will purchase half an acre of Brazilian rainforest which will become a protected forest in your name for 25 years. Further, each time you used your card to pay for something for an amount more than £100 using the card, the Co-operative Bank donate 25 pence towards a fund to make further purchases of Brazilian rainforests and with all the funds raised, they can purchase more rainforest and these rainforest will be give back to some local trusts. I don't know what trust, you will have to ask them. In addition, local residents will be employed to protect the rainforest. Anyway, these rainforest will be leased for 10 years to protect them from loggers. The most troublesome loggers are illegal ones, and illegal loggers are a big problem in my country and they even proposed to make jail compulsory for a convicted illegal logger, not just a paltry fine. But having local trusts plus local residents help protect rainforests from especially illegal loggers may also be very effective, I don't know. It seems it doesn't cost very much to protect an acre of rainforest. All it takes is just £70. To protect half an acre will cost half of that, that is, £35.

Now if you want to take the job upon yourself for extra safeguard, I think they will help you get a Google Earth map reference of your acre. With that Google Earth map reference, you can easily keep watch on your precious rainforest via the Internet. No need to fly all the way and camp yourself in your acre of rainforest. Sounds attractive enough to you? Nothing much to do except do what you normally do, that is, make payments with that special charity card, and it is all done for you. Can anything be simpler than that? With this simple and easy action you can protect an acre of rainforest for less than the price of an iPod.

You can check and compare charity credit cards, comparing Co-operative Bank think credit card with other charity credit cards listed there. You can also use the credit card guide to get more information on what you may be getting into before you take the plunge.

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