Impact of Tropical Deforestation on Global Climate Change

Today on planet Earth there is approximately 31% of the land surface which is covered by forest. This percentage comes out to about 4 billion hectares compared to the pre-industrial age which had 5.9 billion hectares. A hectare is equivalent to 2.47 acres of forest. This change in hectare comes from people using deforestation to make room for expansion and other uses that comes from trees. Deforestation is is clearing Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. When deforestation is to occur, there are several different techniques that are in place to effectively complete the tasks at hand. The most common types of deforestation methods include: slash and burn agriculture, clear-cutting, selective logging, and perennial shade agriculture. Clear-cutting a forest is removing all the trees and vegetation, regardless of species, leaving the land completely bare. In selective logging, only certain trees are chosen to be cut down. Perennial shade agriculture, like selective logging, leaves large areas of forest intact, so the period of regrowth is also relatively short. To give an overall picture of where tropical forests are, they tend to be located within countries that fall on the equator on the map. 75% of the tropical forest can be found in Latin American countries, 33% are in Brazil, 25% in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, and 18% are found in West Africa. These regions and the countries within these have been most affected when it comes the destruction of habitats, the economic growth of some of the countries, and the overall effects of the global environment.

Everything happens for a reason including deforestation. Companies and countries are tearing down forest in order to: To make more land available for housing and urbanization, to harvest timber to create commercial items such as paper, furniture and homes, to create ingredients that are highly prized consumer items, such as the oil from palm trees, and to create room for cattle ranching. These are just the common reasons to deforestation however, there are other reasons that companies and countries will destroy the rainforest areas and those reasons vary depending on the situation.

With action comes consequences, when a tropical rainforest is destroyed animal and plant habitats are destroyed, there is an increase in greenhouse gases, and affects the water cycle.  The height of trees allow animals that are able to fly and climb protection and homes and it also helps to regulate temperature for animals that need a lower temperature to survive. As the number of trees falls, there is an increase in the percentage of greenhouse gases that are in the air. When this percentage rises, it contributes to the global climate change issues that are constantly changing on a daily basis.

When people hear climate change, they begin to associate it with global warming. However, these are two global issues are different topics that are associated with the climate.Global warming refers to the long-term warming of the planet. While climate change encompasses global warming, but refers to the broader range of changes that are happening to our planet. Deforestation has been proven to have a direct correlation on the effect of global climate change over time. Forests help regulate the amount of carbon dioxide that is found in the atmosphere by going through the photosynthesis process. However, when these forests are cut down or burned, only does carbon absorption cease, but also the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere as CO2 if the wood is burned or even if it is left to rot after the deforestation process.

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One comment

  1. andrewwingfield · November 10, 2015

    You bring up a very serious sustainability issue in this post. I have two thoughts. One is about the upcoming international climate meeting in Paris. Countries attending the meeting will not only need to commit to curbing greenhouse gas emissions, but also (for tropical countries like the ones you mention) to preserving their forests. This is HUGE. My other thought is about a current series of stories they’ve been running on NPR. They are about the causes and consequences of deforestation in Brazil. They are very well done and I encourage you to check them out.

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