START A PETITION27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Is the Amazon Heading Towards a 'Tipping Point' as a Carbon Sink?

Environment  (tags: animals, climate-change, CO2emissions, conservation, destruction, ecosystems, endangered, environment, forests, globalwarming, habitatdestruction, healthconditions, healthconditions, nature, politics, pollution, Sustainabililty, wildlife )

- 619 days ago -
The world's largest rain forest is ravaged by deforestation and two recent droughts. If they continue, says one expert, the Amazon risks entering a period where it can no longer be relied upon to absorb more greenhouse gas emissions than it produces.

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.


Kit B. (276)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 10:15 am
Photo Credit: The Ecologist - description-- Unlike Arctic sea-ice, it is not possible to predict the loss of large areas of rainforest, says Dr Lewis

The world's largest rainforest is ravaged by deforestation and two recent droughts. If they continue, says one expert, the Amazon risks entering a period where it can no longer be relied upon to absorb more greenhouse gas emissions than it produces

The Amazon rainforest is facing the combined threat of increasingly severe droughts and continuing deforestation that could wipe out large areas of the forest, warned a respected forest scientist this week.

In a groundbreaking study published in the journal Science earlier this year, Dr Simon Lewis, of Leeds University, found the 2010 drought in the Amazon was more widespread than the 2005 one, previously thought of as a once-in-a-century event.

In an interview with the Ecologist he now says if greenhouse gases are the cause of the severe droughts and such droughts are repeated three or more times a decade it could set in motion a vicious cycle by which droughts would lead to higher emissions of carbon dioxide from rotting trees and, in turn, potentially more frequent and severe droughts.
•Read the interview in full

'If the climate changes in the Amazon to a regime with more severe and frequent droughts, then the dead trees may be numerous enough to cancel-out all the usual carbon uptake, and perhaps even add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere...our current emission pathways are, to be blunt, playing Russian roulette with a substantial portion of the world’s largest rainforest,' he says.

Dr Lewis says much of the forest has survived past climatic changes over millions of years, but what is different now is the interaction of other human interventions, such as deforestation, which together poses an even greater threat to the Amazon rainforest.

For example, he explained, droughts allow more forest to be burnt and cleared, while logged forest dry-out more easily making them more susceptible to fires. To make matters worse, large-scale deforestation can reduce local rainfall and potentially exacerbate future droughts.

Despite the fears over large-scale losses to the Amazon rainforest and the demise of its role as a major carbon sink, Dr Lewis says it was not possible to predict the loss of large areas of rainforest, unlike, say, the disappearance of the Arctic sea-ice.

'The Arctic sea-ice will certainly disappear, as the trend it already clear and physical mechanism – air temperature warming – will continue. So in terms of an irreversible shift in the average state, then the sea-ice is the place to watch.

'For both the Amazon and the Tundra the situation is much more complex, as they both include lots of living organisms, which adapt to changing conditions. For example, trees might die due to droughts, but more drought-tolerant species will likely take their place, so ‘living tipping points’ are much more difficult to predict than those more purely physical parts of the Earth system,' he says.
***Please see Site for links and additional information***

By: Tom Levitt | Ecologist |


Michael Kirkby (91)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 4:48 pm
Noted & posted

JL A. (287)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 6:33 pm
Scary stuff indeed! Thanks for sharing Kit.

Shawna S. (45)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 9:54 pm
It was only a matter of time that this environmental news was published. Scary.
Thanks Kit.

Kerrie G. (135)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 11:04 pm
Noted, thanks.

Yolanda Magris (12)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 11:13 pm
Renewable timber plantations!
If we must use timber, the above, should be one of the solutions.
Alternatively, humans should be finding other materials.
Very scary, to think The Amzon and other Natural environments are currently under destruction.
Hope, we can turn it around soon enough?

Shirley S. (180)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 11:23 pm
This news is really frightening. Rain dances needed in a hurry!

Sheila Baker (0)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 11:59 pm
One acre of Hemp takes 8 weeks to grow for use as paper products compared to 20 years for one acre of trees. Time for a change.

Sylvie A. (193)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 4:02 am
Tout cela fait très peur, merci.

Betty Kelly (4)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 10:01 am
Rain Forests are necessary for a healthly environment. Something needs to be done to save the RainForests in the Amazon.

Robert B. (60)
Thursday March 20, 2014, 6:57 am
Clear cutting practices are devastatingly foolish. Managed, sustainable timber cutting assures a continuing supply without destroying the forest. Hemp and bamboo are both sustainable and fast growing alternatives. What we need to do is kick out the damn greedy lobbyists who stand in the way of practical solutions for sustainability.

Frances Darcy (231)
Thursday March 20, 2014, 7:15 am
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story

Loading Noted By...Please Wait


Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.

New to Care2? Start Here.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!