15% of Climate Change is caused by Disappearing Rainforests
By Ross Melbourne, Member, Rainforest Partnership Board of Directors
Ask almost anyone these days what are the most urgent problems our planet is facing and they will state global warming or man-made climate change as one of them. Yet, very few people know that annually around 15% of planet warming gases are produced by cutting down rainforests (*1). Another fact most people are unaware of is that cutting down rainforests adds as much to climate change as all the cars and trucks in the world (*2). According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated 28,000 square miles of rainforest are lost each year! That is more than the area of West Virginia disappearing each year! At the current rate of deforestation, all of planet Earth’s rainforests could be gone in less than 100 years (*3).
Rainforests are crucial to our planet’s ecological cycles by maintaining global rainfall and regulating worldwide climate patterns. When rainforests are cut down and the vegetation is burnt, they release massive amounts of planet warming gases. In addition, rainforests produce about 20% of all the oxygen in the world. Now imagine how life will be for humans when we have cut down all the rainforests. Biodiversity in our rainforests is also being decimated. Up to 28,000 species are expected to become extinct in the next 25 years due to deforestation (*3). History has shown us how bad things can become when you destroy the natural environment. The civilization on Easter Island completely collapsed due to the inhabitants cutting down all the trees on the island. A clear example of the impact of removing species from an ecosystem can be found with the killing of all the last wolves in Yellowstone National Park in 1926, which resulted in the Elk population growth significantly damaging the park. Reintroducing wolves to the park has now started to rebalance nature. We must all act now to stop the destruction of our rainforests before it is too late for our planet’s climate to rebalance, and for the 10 million species that live here.
With the USA announcing its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement of 2015 it has never been clearer that we, the people, must do everything we can to stand with the rest of the world and fight man-made climate change.
Here is what you can do right now:
- Become a Rainforest Partner (http://rainforestp.wpengine.com/partner-with-us/donation/). Your donations will directly stop deforestation by empowering the people who live in these forests.
- Follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rainforestpartnership/)
- Contact your members of the U.S. Congress (https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials). Tell them you want the United States to actively prevent deforestation of the world’s rainforests because it is a major cause of man-made climate change and its protection is critical for stabilizing our climate.
- Contact your local city and state representatives (https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/) and tell them you want them to support rainforest conservation.
- Contact your mayor’s office to request they join the Compact of Mayors (https://www.compactofmayors.org)
- Take steps to reduce your carbon footprint (http://mashable.com/2013/10/22/reduce-carbon-footprint/#.MGhH46wiiqI)