I gave the Southern Hemisphere an untrue and unnecessary shot about aging in a previous blog, so I thought today I’d make it right. The Southern Hemisphere is actually pretty cool. Maybe you think it’s just part of Africa and South America, and Australia, Antarctica, and New Zealand. But actually, every continent has a part of the Southern Hemisphere, including North America, if you count islands, which I do. That’s right- even the USA. We own Jarvis Island, and sure, it’s as big as your neighborhood and no one lives there, but there we are. France and the UK also have land in the Southern Hemisphere. All of Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica are there, of course, all of South America south of the Amazon, 1/3 of Africa, Indonesia, and the Maldives.
Ten percent of the world’s population lives in the Southern Hemisphere. Much of the world’s remaining rain forest is in the Southern Hemisphere, most notably the Congo Basin Rainforest, with one of the most diverse ecosystems the planet has ever known. This rain forest falls within several sub-equatorial countries, especially the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo. This 700,000 square mile area has around 2,000 species of animals, including some that are endangered. For example the okapi, related to the giraffe and the zebra-
And the bonobo ape-
About 50 million people live in the Congo Basic forests, including the illusive Batwa people (Pygmies) who have been surviving there for a well-documented 20,000 years plus, despite efforts of others to bring them into more “civilized life,” typically in order to move them away from mineral rich lands.
Rain forests all over the globe continue to be destroyed. Just in the Congo Basin alone, were it to be destroyed, in addition to human, plant, and animal life we’d have an extra 135 billion tons of carbon dioxide to deal with. And despite any scientific controversy, it is a fact that this would affect weather patterns on a global scale.
The resources of the Congo Basin, most of which fall in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), including timber, gold, copper, diamonds, and many others are being taken every day with little to no benefit for the people living there. There is a wonderful book I encourage you to read called The Challenge for Africa by the late Nobel Prize winning author Wangari Maathai. She cites a report by the United Nations that lists at least 85,000 multinational companies working with criminal networks in the DRC. You may not be proud when you see who is involved, and how much. And with the increase in rare earth minerals in our technology, the future looks bleak.
I know, I started with the entire Southern Hemisphere and ended up in Africa. Well, that’s where I live now, so there it is.
I think we’ve all lost interest in the Swahili Quiz so we’re going to switch it up and do some trivia. Who doesn’t love a little trivia? 78% of the equator is over water. But this imaginary line does pass through 13 countries. How many can you name? And, no, Equatorial Guinea isn’t one of them.
As for the Swahili Quiz, the winners are Eric, Lauren, Gaby, and Laura, not necessarily in order. Fabulous prizes will be given to them upon my return!