Stopping tropical deforestation is even more important than we thought!

deforestation in the amazon photo
CC BY 2.0 Threat to Democracy

It's always been clear that stopping deforestation was a good idea, especially in the tropics where forests are incredibly productive and dense. We wouldn't have the website name that we have if we didn't think that trees are awesome!

A new study by researchers at the University of Edinburgh shows that the climate benefits of protecting tropical forests would be incredibly massive, on the kind of scale that would truly make a difference if only we can change things. And that's not even counting all the other non climate-related benefits that have to do with ecosystem services, biodiversity, reduction in air pollution (clearing forests with fires is a huge problem), etc.

Tropical forests absorb almost two billion tonnes of carbon each year, equivalent to 20% of the world's carbon emissions. This carbon is used to grow bark, leaves, is absorbed in the soil, etc. However, and there's the rub, there's a similar amount of carbon that is released by tropical forests because of human activities like logging, land-clearing for grazing, growing biofuel crops (like palm oil, soya bean and sugar), peat fires, etc.

So that's the opportunity. If we can stop these human practices, tropical forests are estimated to be able to absorb that 20% of world carbon emissions. This, combined with all kinds of other strategies like cleaning up the power grid, electrifying transportation and encouraging more walking, biking, transit, investments in energy efficiency, etc. This could all add up to the kind of greenhouse gas reductions that we need to avoid this kind of disaster.

brazil deforestation image© Google

Via University of Edinburgh, Science Daily

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