Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Tropical forests lose ability to store carbon

Scientists Warn of "Biological Annihilation" as Warming Reaches Levels Unseen for 115,000 Years

Aerial view of the Amazon, near Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas.
Camp 41, Brazilian Amazon -- Less than 30 years ago, the Earth's tropical rainforests held the carbon equivalent of half of the entire atmosphere. But as atmospheric CO2 has escalated along with the deforestation of so much of the tropics, that is no longer the case. Nevertheless, carbon stored in tropical rainforests is still significant. According to NASA, "In the early 2000s, forests in the 75 tropical countries studied contained 247 billion tons of carbon. For perspective, about 10 billion tons of carbon is released annually to the atmosphere from combined fossil fuel burning and land use changes." This is one of the countless reasons why losing them would be catastrophic to life on Earth.

I'm writing this dispatch just having emerged from the heart of the Amazon, the most biodiverse place on the planet. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Tom Lovejoy, known as the "Godfather of Biodiversity," at the famous Camp 41, which is filled with researchers and scientists. Throughout our conversations, Lovejoy emphasized the staggering amount of biological diversity in the Amazon, which has thousands upon thousands of species of trees, fish, birds, plants and astronomical numbers of insect species.

"We've only scratched the surface, and are discovering new species of birds all the time," said Lovejoy, who was the first person to use the term "biological diversity" in 1980 and made the first projection of global extinction rates in the "Global 2000 Report to the President" that same year.

To read the article GO HERE


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