Deforestation

Deforestation

Mariah Holston, Staff Writer

Deforestation is an ongoing worldwide problem. The negative effects of deforestation include climate instability and a disturbance to biodiversity conservation. According to the World Resources Institute, “The most ominous signal from the 2020 data is the number and variety of instances in which forests themselves suffered in extreme weather events. In the Amazon, burning now occurs inside the rainforest, rather than just along the recently felled edges. Even wetlands are burning! Global warming and forest loss conspire to create warmer, drier conditions, which in turn render forests more vulnerable to fire and pest infestation. Subsequent burning and decay release more carbon emissions, feeding a vicious cycle. Nature has been whispering to us about these risks for a long time, but now she is shouting. The longer we wait to both stop deforestation and shift to net-zero emissions trajectories in other sectors, the more likely it is that our natural carbon sinks will go up in smoke.” Studies show that from 2019 to 2020, the loss of tropical forests went up by 12%.

The increase of deforestation has greatly contributed to the increase in climate change and global warming. Deforestation is the act of clearing a wide area of trees. Tropical trees take in and store carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. “When trees are cut down and burned or allowed to rot, their stored carbon is released into the air as carbon dioxide. And this is how deforestation and forest degradation contribute to global warming. According to the Best Current Estimate, deforestation is responsible for about 10 percent of all global warming emissions,” Union of Concerned Scientists explains. To reduce deforestation is to reduce emission levels. Union of Concerned Scientists also explains, “We need to protect tropical forests from deforestation and degradation if we want to reduce emissions to the levels needed to protect the planet against the worst global warming impacts.

Ending deforestation will not solve global warming by itself, of course—urgent action is needed to cut the other 90 percent of emissions. But the problem cannot be solved if the role of tropical deforestation is ignored. And reducing deforestation has other benefits beyond reducing global warming pollution.” Reducing deforestation is beneficial to the reduction of global warming and the perseverance of biodiversity. The University of Connecticut states, “Known mostly for its dense rainforests, the Amazon basin supports around 40% of the world’s remaining tropical forests. It is of global importance as a provider of ecosystem services such as scrubbing and storing carbon from the atmosphere, and it plays a vital role in regulating Earth’s climate. The area also is an enormous reservoir of the planet’s biodiversity, providing habitats for one out of every 10 of the planet’s known species. It has been estimated that in the Amazon, 1,000 tree species can populate an area smaller than a half square mile.” Many well-known corporations have made efforts in order to reduce deforestation. The Union of Concerned Scientists states, “Continuing progress will require a sustained commitment by governments, businesses, consumers, and non-governmental organizations to the goal of ending—and, where possible, reversing—tropical deforestation.”