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Why This Matters: Due to human impacts, in about 40% of the Amazon the rainfall is now at a level where the forest could exist in either state—rainforest or savannah. As swaths of the rainforest begin to wither, lose moisture, and become savannah, crucial water resources will be removed from the region permanently, further contributing to drought.
A Rapid Reckoning: Researchers say that once the conversion process from rainforest to savannah begins, it is very hard to reverse; now, experts fear that we don’t have time to reverse this process despite our best efforts.
Further studies have explained this rapid acceleration, finding that larger, more complex biomes fall faster than smaller ones.Researchers estimate that once the tipping point is reached, it could take less than 50 years for a biome the size of the Amazon to collapse completely. John Dearing, a professor in physical geography at the University of Southampton urges people not to be “taken in by the longevity of these systems just because they may have been around for thousands, if not millions, of years.” He said, “they will collapse much more rapidly than we think.”
Political Motivations: President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has promised to continue the development of the Amazon rainforest, ignoring critics and environmentalists who want to see the forest preserved. One critic, presidential candidate Joe Biden, recently threatened Brazil with “economic consequences” if it did not stop damaging the rainforest. Bolsonaro disregarded the statement as cowardly.
In the first 9 months of 2020, Amazon forest fires increased by 13% compared to last year. According to fire monitoring tools at NASA, the Amazon currently has 28,892 active fires spanning 9 different countries. Due to this damage, about 20% of the Amazon has become a net positive source of carbon, with healthy forest unable to absorb the carbon flowing freely into the atmosphere. Environmentalists emphasize that the forest is paying the price of climate change, Ane Alencar, science director for Brazil’s Amazon Environmental Research said of the current drought, “we are at the mercy of the rain.”
by Ashira Morris From fishery management to forest protection, the environmentalist vs. industry frame is often a roadblock to sustainable practices. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In Canada, environmentalists, logging companies, and First Nations people came together to create a management plan for the Great Bear Rainforest. This stretch of the British […]
If you’ve ever noticed that there’s something off about the timing and duration of fall foliage where you live–you’re not imagining things! As with many ecological processes, human activity is shifting the arrival of our seasons through what’s described as “season creep.“ As the Washington Post wrote this past weekend: “Human activities transform not just […]
Back in January, President Trump said the U.S. would join the World Economic Forum’s “Trillion Trees” Initiative — but in the 9 months since then we have heard little of it. Today, the President signed an Executive Order saying that “given the expansive footprint of our Federal forests and woodlands, this order initiates the formation […]
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