CO2 Emissions from Dying Forests Fuel Global Warming

Specialists indicate the global warming effects are fueled by CO2 emissions from dying forests. Today, the forests which used to be the greatest and most luxurious tropical forests are also contributing to climate change. The already heating planet is affected by the carbon dioxide emissions coming from the deforestation of tropical rainforests.

It is true that the greatest factor that influenced and continues to influence global warming is human activity. We all know that the industrial age that brought the use of fossil fuel started damaging the ozone layer little by little, increasing the amount of greenhouse gases. However, new research indicates that trees which are supposed to emit oxygen and save us, they actually fuel global warming effects.

CO2 emissions from dying forests affect us

We all know that trees usually absorb CO2 while producing oxygen. Nevertheless, scientists from the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California state exactly the opposite. They revealed that the biggest tropical forests on our planet only absorb a small amount of the huge quantity of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Furthermore, that causes the trees to die off. As the trees decay, they rot.

When rotting, they release great amounts of CO2, hence contributing to climate change effects. Trees die off in the rainforests, producing more carbon dioxide. As the levels of CO2 increase, more trees will die off and the cycle will continue like a never-ending story where the entire world suffers. This will represent a slippery downward spiral for planet Earth.

Researchers also identified that one of the major factors which influenced the decaying of trees in the tropical rainforests was the increasing strength of El Nino. This hurricane triggered warm ocean temperatures during the last decades.

The trees that die off increase CO2 levels in the atmosphere

Junjie Liu is the lead author of the study. She argued that the forests in the South America, Indonesia and Africa suffered the greatest damages. The forests from these areas proved to have the greatest influence in the increase of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. The new study indicates that these 3 tropical areas are responsible for emitting 2.5 gigatons more carbon compared to the CO2 levels registered in 2011.

Annmarie Eldering is a Project Scientists at JPL. She argues that their analysis explicitly indicates the all the extra carbon dioxide accounts for the difference in atmospheric carbon dioxide growth rates registered between 2011 and 2016. The new data allows them to quantify how El Nino affects the carbon exchange between land and atmosphere.

The new study will allow scientists to estimate the global warming generated by nature. Eldering claims that the way the carbon cycles in these areas reacted during El Nino will help scientists improve their carbon cycle models. Furthermore, they will also be able to enable better predictions regarding our planet’s response to similar conditions in the near future.

In case of future climate brings longer droughts just like it happened in the case of El Nino, than larger quantities of CO2 may remain trapped into the atmosphere. Hence, they will lead to more rising temperature events, affecting all the living beings on Earth.

A path made among tree residues on a field

Deforestation also fuels the growth of CO2 levels, continuously polluting the atmosphere.

The effects of deforestation

Besides the terrible effects of trees dying off in tropical forests, let’s not forget about the horrific outcome of deforestation. Another study indicates that deforestation in tropical forests emits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the total amount of trucks and cars in the world. Isn’t that impressive? The World Carfree Network (WCN) suggests that cars and trucks account for 14% of the total emissions of CO2 in the world.

On the other hand, researchers show that the total amount emitted by trees during the deforestation process was estimated at over 15%. Experts explain that when trees get cut down, they release into the atmosphere all the carbon they have been storing. Once they release CO2, it will mingle with other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Hence, they will contribute to global warming.

This is one of the main reason we should reduce deforestation. By reducing it, we will also reduce the effects of climate change. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) suggests that people cut down 32 million acres of tropical rainforest every year between 2000 and 2009. Unfortunately, the pace of deforestation is currently increasing, and the number of dead trees will surely get higher.

Many plants and animals may disappear

If we do not stop forest destruction, then all the trees that will die will release at least 200 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere in the future. The EDF indicates that policymakers should develop realistic plans on how to reduce climate change. In this way, we will be able to avoid other terrible consequences that might occur in the future.

Even if many policymakers would try to save our planet, it is hard for them to explain the deforestation problem to poor people living in the Amazon basin. They will not stop cutting down trees since this is their only way to provide money for their families. This industry feeds numerous people in the area.

Residents in the Amazon basin obtain profit from cropland, timber, pasture, and charcoal. Hence, they will not stop deforesting the great tropical forest. The EDF explains that conservation will cost a lot of money. Tropical deforestation does not only fuel the terrible global warming effects. It also affects thousands of habitats, and many species of plants and animals may disappear.

Specialists indicate that more than half of all animal and plant species in the world live in tropical forests. Therefore, they may all remain without their home, and some of them may find it hard to adapt.

Summing up

Human-made activities have a great influence on our environment, constantly boosting global warming effects. Deforestation triggers great amounts of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. However, it also affects hundreds of habitats and ecosystems. Together with the dying forests, a lot of animal and plant species may also disappear.

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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