When we hear something about climate change, most often it’s in the frame of fossil fuels. Deforestation often doesn’t make it into the debate.
The role that forests play in the fight against climate change is rarely mentioned by environmental organizations. And while many of them are catching up in the past years, governments and international organizations are largely ignoring the issue. A group of scientists has recently called for action by stating that halting deforestation is as urgent as ending our dependency on fossil fuels.
They pointed our that if we destroy all of the worlds forests we’re going to release the equivalent of 3 trillion tons of carbon dioxide. This astronomical figure of carbon exceeds the amount contained in all of oil reserves that we’ve discovered so far. The scientists declared that :
“We must protect and maintain healthy forests to avoid dangerous climate change and to ensure the world’s forests continue to provide services critical for the well-being of the planet and ourselves,”
People would point out that all of the forests are not currently being threatened by industrial activity, but this isn’t really true. Tropical forests are being ravaged by intensive agriculture and the raising of livestock, but temperate forests are also threatened, even indirectly. The quickly changing climate is provoking unusual heat waves in temperate latitudes. This summer we saw forest fires as far as the north of Sweden.
The mechanisms between deforestation and climate change are numerous. Deforestation increases the temperature and worsens drought events, which can destabilize other forest ecosystems. Climate change negatively impacts agriculture, which creates more demand for further deforestation. There are many scary feedback loops, which make it clear that unless we act urgently and effectively, the problems are going to become exponentially worse.
International organizations need to create strong incentives that reward tropical countries that preserve their forests. We can’t put this burden on their shoulders, especially since industrialized nations are largely responsible for climate change, for the demand for animal feed, meat and palm oil. All countries have a direct interest in maintaing the health of the tropical forests, because this means maintaining the climate stability of the whole planet.
Source : theguardian