We only have one planet to live on (27)
Welcome to the 27th weekly episode of the series We Only Have One Planet to Live On. Today, we study deforestation, which is a main contributor to global warming.
The global warming is a major challenge which has generated concerns among countless experts. According to these experts, a rise in carbon dioxide emissions is the most important factor in global warming. Meanwhile, fossil fuels produce 24% of the global carbon dioxide emissions. The environmentalists opine that after fossil fuels, deforestation is the root cause of global warming.
A body of research shows that forests absorb 18% of the global carbon dioxide emissions. Thus, upon deforestation, the volume of carbon dioxide emissions would significantly surge. A recent report released by the UN Environment Plan notes that upon the continuation of global climate change and its negative impacts on forests, every year $1 trillion worth of losses will be inflicted on the global economy.
The findings of the scientists recruited by Japan Forestry Association confirm this fact. Based on these findings, one square meter of tree leaves produces five units of oxygen per day, which is worth $1. On this basis, a five-year-old tree nearly produces 140 units of oxygen per day; the annual value of which stands at $10,000.
Moreover, a twenty-year-old tree produces $120,000 of oxygen per year and a fifty-year-old tree produces $6m of oxygen per year. This is just one of the ecological values of forests; which the majorities of people are unaware of. This lack of awareness has led to destruction of forests in many parts of the world for development of gas pipelines, construction of factories and/or roads.
Plants absorb and emit carbon dioxide, both. Meanwhile, intact forests, especially rainforests absorb greenhouse gases more than emitting them. If the area covered with rainforests is reduced, billions of tons of carbon dioxide would be emitted, thereby mounting the global warming. But, if the area covered with rainforests increases, the global warming will slow down for a period of time. This measure is yet to be taken.
Meanwhile, droughts resulting from global warming contribute to deforestation. For instance, in the years 2005 and 2010, the world was witness to a number of droughts, which led to destruction of millions of trees. The outcomes of latest studies show that climate change has left a destructive impact on Amazon Forests. AP has pointed out that as of the year 2010; the temperature of Amazon Forests has risen by two degrees Celsius, while the rainfalls in this region will drop by 10% per annum.
Amazon Forests’ destruction is swiftly underway. These forests are popularly known as Earth’s Lungs, and play a vital role in maintenance of the balance of global climate. Amazon Forests cover an area of 7.5 million square kilometers, including the largest rainforests of the tropical region. These forests produce more than 20% of the existing oxygen in the world and absorb 1.5b tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. These forests regulate temperature, rate of rainfall, winds, and climatic conditions across the globe.
Scientists believe that is Amazon Forests would be destroyed; the available fresh water on the planet will reduce by 20%. As of the year 1970, roughly 600,000 square kilometers of Amazon Forests in Brazil have been destructed. This area is larger than the areas covered by Spain and Portugal. Moreover, in the past ten years, in average nearly three million hectares of these forests have been destroyed per annum. Environmentalists have warned that if deforestation continues, global warming will be intensified and deserts will expand.
Global warming has slowed down the revival of tropical forests and has exposed forests to wildfires, ailments, and dryness of trees. Meanwhile, upon the destruction of trees, their stored carbon gases are emitted; thereby speeding up the global warming, as a result of which famine, illness, and displacement of humans occur.
Experts also believe that global warming surges the rate of metabolism in plants, resulting in consumption of more energy by the plant for its growth, thereby lowering the resistance of these plants. In this manner, forests will become smaller with the passage of time. Up until now, roughly 35 million hectares of forests in the world have been destroyed, and the global deserts’ area has surged by 8 million hectares.
Other than climate change, other factors also contribute to deforestation, such as usage and/or sales of cut trees as fuels, usage of forests to feed livestock, and development of farmlands or towns. Forests are also severely destroyed amid wars. Usually, the warring parties destroy forests in order to deprive the other party of usage of forests as a place to hide its troops.
Meanwhile, throughout forested regions, in which many trees have been destroyed, soil erosion usually takes place, and amid torrential rains, the stage is set for emergence of flashfloods. Furthermore, deforestation sabotages the lives of millions of humans and animals. According to a UN report, upon the continuation of global climate change and its consequences on forests, one billion humans, whose lives depend on forests, will face a series of problems. The majorities of these individuals live in developing countries.
Given that the existence of humans and other living creatures is tied to forests, currently all world countries, officially or unofficially, intend to safeguard their forests and to prevent deforestation. Moreover, international bodies have placed the plan for protection of forests on their agenda. For instance, UN has called on wealthy states to donate 10b to 15b dollars for this purpose.
However, evidences show the majority of wealthy states have refused to fulfill their commitments. Currently, the international community expects the industrial states to fulfill their financial commitments toward developing countries for maintenance of forests.
Dear listeners, as it was said deforestation has left negative impacts on the global climate, while also endangering biodiversity and existence of animal species.