February 03, 2008
50,000 Square Miles Of Tropical Forest Cleared Per Year

The rate of rain forest destruction has accelerated.

From Brazil to central Africa to once-lush islands in Asia's archipelagos, human encroachment is shrinking the world's rain forests.

The alarm was sounded decades ago by environmentalists _ and was little heeded. The picture, meanwhile, has changed: Africa is now a leader in destructiveness. The numbers have changed: U.N. specialists estimate 60 acres of tropical forest are felled worldwide every minute, up from 50 a generation back. And the fears have changed.

The best solution to this problem? Free contraceptives and other forms of birth control to everyone in the world. We have too many people. We aren't going to persuade them all to consume less. They will gobble up more and more habitat.

Since large chunks of our elites have decided (in a sort of madness of the intellectual crowds) that anthropogenic global warming (now renamed as Climate Change as part of that madness) is the biggest problem facing the planet they have decided that habitat loss must be seen through the lens of global warming (er, climate change).

"If we lose forests, we lose the fight against climate change," declared more than 300 scientists, conservation groups, religious leaders and others in an appeal for action at December's climate conference in Bali, Indonesia.

They can't imagine really mobilizing to stop the problem of habitat destruction unless they can shout "Climate Change!" It is not enough for them to say "Oh wait, it sure is nice to see elephants, lions, tigers, orangutans, bonobos, and lots of other species living in their native habitats and we should prevent the destruction of those habitats at the hands of human population expansion and economic growth." Nope, they need a core source of motivation that points its way back to industrial activity rather than destruction of habitats as the core evil. I think they aren't making sense.

Isn't this pretty bad even if it does not change average global temperature? Do we really need to be able to forecast a change in average global temperature in order to decide this trend is really bad? I mean, I don't need to consider the temperature effects of so much deforestation in order to decide this is bad.

"Deforestation continues at an alarming rate of about 13 million hectares (32 million acres) a year," the U.N. body said in its latest "State of the World's Forests" report.

Because northern forests remain essentially stable, that means 50,000 square miles of tropical forest are being cleared every 12 months _ equivalent to one Mississippi or more than half a Britain.

The extensive deforestation in Brazil is running at about 5 to 6 percent of the world total per year.

The Brazilian government has announced a huge rise in the rate of Amazon deforestation, months after celebrating its success in achieving a reduction.

In the last five months of 2007, 3,235 sq km (1,250 sq miles) were lost.

Gilberto Camara, of INPE, an institute that provides satellite imaging of the area, said the rate of loss was unprecedented for the time of year.

Growing demand for cattle and soy beans is driving the Amazon destruction.

In the past 40 years, close to 20% of the Amazon has been cut down.

Land cleared for cattle is the leading cause of deforestation, while the growth in soya bean production is becoming increasingly significant. Illegal logging is also a factor.

Deforestation and forest fires are now responsible for nearly 75% of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions.

While the Amazon seems to get the most press attention the deforestation rate in Indonesia is a few times the rate in Brazil.

Whether it was arming forest police or backing schemes to certify legal logs, no tactic could silence the chain saws or douse the intentional fires that each day destroy 20 more square miles (50 more square kilometers) of Indonesia's rain forests, and an estimated 110 square miles (285 square kilometers) elsewhere in the world's tropics.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 February 03 09:37 PM  Trends Habitat Loss

Jake said at February 4, 2008 10:57 AM:

Scientists at the University of Leeds say deforestation is overblown. They believe that natural reforestation rate is exceeding the human deforestation rate.


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