When I was a kid, my dad used to take me to the Minnesota Zoo a lot. One of my favorite parts about the zoo was the bird show, a 45-minute presentation about owls and toucans and so on that had a strong environmental emphasis. The show used the same script for years, so I knew it by heart. They always closed with a quote they attributed to Chief Seattle:
"We have not inherited the earth from our parents, we have borrowed it from our children."
Before the bird show, the TV monitors in the corners would play a kid-oriented video about the Amazon. Something in the video alarmed and disturbed me. At the current rate the rainforest was being cut down (99 acres per minute), the Amazon rainforest would be completely gone by the year 2000.
Now, I longed to visit the Amazon. I daydreamed about hiking past kapok trees, spotting sloths, chasing blue butterflies the size of serving platters, etc. I wanted to work and live in the rainforest. So obviously the idea that it would all be gone before I could even visit freaked me out. It freaked me out so much that I went through a phase (my mom still talks about it) in which I cried myself to sleep every night. When asked why I was upset, I would sob, "Because the rainforest is being destroyed!"
What can I say? I was in fourth grade.
Fortunately, the Amazon is still there. I haven't visited it yet, but it's on my agenda. Here's a list of related books I've read and enjoyed in the meantime.
Demon River Apurimac by J. Calvin Giddings
Brazilian Adventure by Peter Fleming
Journey of the Pink Dolphins by Sy Montgomery
The Sea and the Jungle by H. M. Tomlinson
Running the Amazon by Joe Kane