05/11/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What's Up With the Rainforest? Science in the Amazon

We live in a far too complex and interconnected world to expect there is an easy way out in solving our environmental crisis. We can't rely on a three-second Google search to provide all the answers, or a "miracle pill" to suddenly shrink our carbon footprint. If we want to see a real difference, we are going to have to dig deeper - transforming the current values and beliefs we live by into ones that will guide us to a new, sustainable lifestyle. The Rainforest Newsladder has reflected this, highlighting the individuals, businesses and countries working hard at laying the groundwork for a sustainable world today so that we have a future tomorrow. We, along with our partner Rainforest Alliance, hope that as you join in the conversation you also become inspired to extend a helping hand.

It is clear that the planet will not always be able to support the type of lifestyle we have enjoyed and become accustomed to. By increasing our focus on sustainable living and business practices we are displaying a consideration for future generations. As our first story makes clear, it is this next generation that holds the key to a successful, sustainable future. Realizing that preparation and education would be more beneficial than any amount of charity money, two Berkeley bioengineering graduate students, Rick Henrikson and Richard Novak co-funded the outreach organization Future Scientist. Armed with their mission to teach science and practical technical skills to young people in rural, developing regions, Future Scientist is able to give these communities a resource they will never run out of - a generation of children with the ability to sustainably address their own needs.

Of course you don't have to start an activist group to start making a difference. By simply doing little everyday things to help the environment, you become a part of an important domino effect. As with any consumer trend, businesses take note; the more demand from individuals for eco-friendly choices, the more green options businesses will supply. For example, realizing that more tourists have become conscious about how their trip impacts the environment, the travel industry has made strides in providing sustainable travel. Smart Voyager is a certification program founded by Conservación y Desarrollo in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance that provides vacation goers an option by holding cruise ships and other tour operators to high environmental and social standards.

Innovation is clearly needed in shifting towards a sustainable lifestyle, but our next story points out that Mother Nature has already provided us with many of the clues. This is theme behind The National Science and Engineering Week online vote, "Find the Identity of Nature's Greatest Engineer". This article reminds us how many everyday items, such as Velcro, were the product of an engineer being inspired by some natural phenomenon. It also reveals how a termite colony can be studied as a model of sustainable development.

On an international scale, countries that have depleted much of their rain forests are making sure that history doesn't repeat itself. First, a look into the progress and opportunity potential of Brazil, calling attention to the efforts being made by the agribusiness, specifically beef producers, to work on sustainability. And then in Haiti, where as leaders continue the process of rebuilding their country, they are planning to put systems in place that will provide for the long-term.

We have come to a point where we can either be proactive in securing a strong future, or we can wait until we run out of all our resources and are forced to change. Let's not wait until it's too late. Let's make smart decisions now by continuing to make strides towards sustainable living. Visit our Facebook page to find out what other people are doing to help and stay informed on all the latest issues by checking out the Rainforest Newsladder.