There’s no denying it anymore; we are in the midst of a climate crisis. Our sea levels are rising, our seasons keep getting warmer, wildlife populations have plummeted and there is more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than there ever has been before. There are multiple reasons for why climate change has progressed so much – one of them being deforestation.But how does deforestation contribute to climate change? Here’s how.
First things first, a little science lesson. Trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow. How much carbon dioxide? An acre of mature trees can absorb the same amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car for 26,000 miles. So, a lot of carbon. When forests are destroyed – by fires or for agricultural purposes, that carbon that was once safely stored in these trees is released into the world again, building up in our atmosphere. According to WRI, over the years of 2015-2017 the loss of forests contributed to around 4.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. What it really means is, deforestation is causing more emissions every year than 85 million cars would over their entire lifetime.
So, what causes deforestation? The short version is –we do. Farming, grazing lands, mining, and drilling account for more than half of all deforestation. Wildfires, urbanization and other things account for the rest. Reasons for cutting down forests vary from place to place – for example in Indonesia, forests are being cut down rapidly to produce palm oil whereas in the Amazon, forests are being cleared for cattle farming.
The loss of the world’s forests has grave consequences across all areas of life. It is much more than a few trees being cut down. Forests have multiple benefits globally, such as:
What can we do? While yes, we are in a climate crisis and the numbers are quite bleak – there’s still hope for our wonderful planet. There are many things we can do as individuals to help offset our own carbon footprint – as well as aid in the causes of deforestation. Here’s a list!