Report: Rainforest devastation worse in 2018 than ever

Deforestation around the globe reached a new high in 2018 as an area of rainforest that would more than equal the acreage of the state of Maryland has been lost, the worst devastation since records began in 2002.

The forests are considered the lungs of the world. Trees take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce oxygen that every animal and insect on this plant needs to breathe.

The loss of trees through deforestation has already contributed to there being more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than planting more trees could remove.

And a new report about deforestation in 2018 makes it clear that world leaders have not done enough to preserve pristine forests around the world, particularly in South America, where 3.2 million acres of rainforest was cleared, accounting for the lion’s share of deforestation.

“Most of the 2018 loss is clearcutting in the Amazon,” Global Forest Watch manager Mikaela Weisse told The Guardian. “Shockingly we are also seeing some invasions into indigenous lands that have been immune to deforestation for years.”

Indeed, and it’s set to get much worse as new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ignores the rights of indigenous peoples to increase the power of the logging industry, destroying multiple species of animals and plants, potential cures for diseases and the trees the world relies on for oxygen and cleaner air.

It’s a scheme that is being repeated around the world, although many world leaders have sought to stop the bleeding. Deforestation by humans has dropped slightly, but wildfires have also thwarted efforts by contributing to the losses. Their efforts are just not enough, and the world is running out of time to stop it.

“We are nowhere near winning this battle,” World Resources Institute Senior Fellow Frances Seymour said. “It is really tempting to celebrate a second year of decline since peak tree cover loss in 2016 but, if you look back over the last 18 years, it is clear that the overall trend is still upwards. The world’s forests are now in the emergency room – it is death by a thousand cuts. Band-Aid responses are not enough. For every hectare lost, we are one step closer to the scary scenario of runaway climate change.”

Seymour’s warning should frighten everyone to action. Governments must do more to curtail deforestation in every way before it’s too late. Again, we need oxygen to breathe and no one is exempt from needing air to survive.

And it’s not just trees that are being killed, it’s the humans who try to protect them.

“Behind the bars on these charts are heartbreaking losses in real places,” Seymour said. “All too often the loss of an area of forest is also associated with a funeral, because every year hundreds of people are murdered when they try to stop the miners, loggers and ranchers. The moral imperative to act on this story is unquestionable and urgent.”

The loss of our forests is out of control. For too long, greed and ignorance have blinded people to the realization that trees are necessary for the Earth to thrive. We are now on the brink of an international disaster that will impact every species on this planet and the only way to counter it is to act now.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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