To Stop Climate Change, We Must End Deforestation

The current rate of global deforestation could†impact climate change even more than scientists had previously estimated, a new study warns.

Publishing in the journal “Nature Communications,” an international group of scientists warn of the massive “accumulated loss of trees” expected to happen in the next three to four decades. Regardless of current efforts to reduce climate change, deforestation would intensify greenhouse gas emissions.

Researcher Paulo Artaxo of the University of Sao Paulo’s Physics Institute†explained:

After adjusting the model to reproduce the current conditions of Earth’s atmosphere and the rise in surface temperatures that has occurred since 1850, we ran a simulation in which the same scenario was maintained but all forests were eliminated. The result was a significant rise of 0.8 įC in mean temperature. In other words, today the planet would be almost 1 įC warmer on average if there were no more forests.

Official figures show we have lost the equivalent of 1,000 soccer fields of forests per hour†over the last 25 years.

While†deforestation declined by half over†the past three decades, and recent forest conservation projects†have made significant steps, the loss is still too high. This study, therefore,†offers†much-needed insight†as to why our forests are so critical for†climate regulation.

Crunching the numbers in new ways.

To†explore†this problem, the researchers embarked on a seemingly epic quest: They sought to reproduce the planet’s current atmospheric conditions using computer models developed by the UK’s meteorological service. This approach allowed†the scientists†to†examine†multiple variables, including aerosols, VOCs, ozone, carbon dioxide and methane.

The researchers†also looked at years worth of data†on vegetation and tree cover and forest emission rates.

This study showed a major difference that previous models hadn’t produced, largely due to†one key factor: biogenic volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. Trees everywhere†release VOC emissions, which become aerosols†when they meet oxygen in our atmosphere. Because these aerosols reflect some of the sun’s radiation back into space, they can regulate our climate and stop some of the warming.

Deforestation: lose our forests, lose our cool.

Perhaps the†most critical take-away from this study is that carbon emission reduction efforts will count for little if deforestation continues. That finding should serve massive wake-up call, and it adds to a growing chorus of concern.

Scientists†Thomas Lovejoy and Carlos Nobre recently warned in “Scientific Advances” that the loss of the Amazon rainforest is also reaching a†tipping point, which could disrupt the world’s hydrological cycle. Were that to happen, 50 percent of the forest could become a “degraded savannah.”

These†recent studies suggest that forest loss and climate change are intimately linked — and, unless we act now, these problems may rapidly worsen.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

126 comments

Renata B
Renata B2 days ago

It is exactly what I was saying in my previous comment (on the cautions to take with waterfalls). We become complacent and we believe to be the rulers and be able to decide about everything. We behave foolishly and Nature will blow us away, us and our infinite arrogance, like a grain of sand.

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Marie W
Marie W22 days ago

Thank you

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Knud Thirup
Knud Thirup6 months ago

Ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R6 months ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R6 months ago

ty

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