Will Nations Of The World Save Tropical Forests For Their Carbon?

When climate treaty negotiators gathered in Bali last week to begin framing a global response, efforts were made to negotiate a means to slow tropical forest destruction.

Tropical deforestation (within the areas pictured in green on the map) is presently a significant cause of carbon dioxide loss to the atmosphere. Annually, an area of native tropical forests "at least equal to the size of New York state" are destroyed by a combination of expanding agriculture, illegal logging, and/or oil palm plantation development. The biomass-associated carbon dioxide emissions rate associated with annual tropical forest acreage loss is roughly 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, on a par with total the U.S'. total.The hoped-for compromise -- providing financial rewards to poor nations that slow or halt the destruction of their forests -- appears to have moved forward; but, there will remain divisions over who bears responsibility for slowing climate change and over the "best use" of natural forest lands. As long as there is more money to be made clear-cutting tropical forests than for conserving them, demands for compensation are always going to be on the table by present land holders.

This will not be easy. It's easy to spin the deal as "climate blackmail," or as developed nations holding the economies of underdeveloped nations hostage. Free market utopians and free trade advocates will be categorically opposed. Illicit supply chains that meet the furniture demands of developed nations will be disrupted.

But it is a necessary effort. And the benefits include not just climate protection, but biodiversity preservation.

Via::Washington Post, "Preserving Tropical Forests Is Key Issue at Talks on Global Warming" Image credit::Earth Observatory, NASA

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