According to the BBC, we are currently losing our rainforests at a rate of 1.5 acres per second. And this is not a new problem. Deforestation has continued now for many years, and at this rate we may find our world completely devoid of rainforests within the next 100 years. And that’s a huge problem for a multitude of reasons.
Let’s start with the fact that the majority (over 50%) of the world’s flora and fauna live in rainforests. The more forests we clear, the more animals we doom—because we’re taking away their habitats.
Rainforests absorb carbon dioxide, but they have a limit; and that limit is reduced with every tree that gets cut down. On an average year, rainforests can absorb over 1.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. That’s about 20% of the world’s total fossil fuel emissions. And in a time when fossil fuel buildup is causing global warming, it seems backwards to be cutting down one of our best options to counter it.
In fact, reduction of rainforests can actually be accelerated by climate change as well. Severe weather patterns like droughts (the frequency of which global warming increases) can actually cause rainforests to emit carbon dioxide rather than absorbing it. As trees die off, they release the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
We need to refrain from exacerbating this problem. With the loss of the majority of the world’s rainforests, we will substantially increase the amount of greenhouse gas buildup—and therefore accelerate the global warming process. We should instead be focusing on coexisting with our natural environment, practicing sustainable forestry techniques rather than just clearing large sections of healthy forest at a time; doing that alone could reduce the amount of deforestation by millions of acres each year.