May 04, 2010
50% Amazon Shrinkage By 2050?

Will the Amazon hit a tipping point and turn into a desert?

In what could easily be considered a worst-case scenario for the fate of the world's largest rainforest, a study led by Brazil's National Institute of Special Research found that the size of the Amazon could be reduced 50 percent by 2050, the 'tipping point' for when it will slowly wither away entirely. Considering forest-threatening factors such as fires, deforestation, and the emission of greenhouse gases, the research found if the regions of the Amazon most crucial to maintaining the biome's climate are lost, large sections of the once lush rainforest may be reduced to a virtual desert.

While the Amazon might be more immune to drought than previously believed rain forest trees are getting ripped out for lumber and and to create farm land. That trend looks set to continue due to growing human populations and Asian industrialization. The demand for the food and lumber will grow and that demand will drive more deforestation.

To humans the world used to seem so large that we had little impact on it. But our reach keeps getting larger and we've really begun to cut into the biosphere to an extent that is worrisome.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 May 04 11:17 PM  Trends Habitat Loss

James Bowery said at May 5, 2010 12:27 AM:

Moso bamboo can be made into an engineered wood with long lifetime and good strength to weight characteristics and aesthetics. Moreover, it can be clone-propagated.

If people could stop obsessing about algae as an oil source for a few years, they might discover that it makes protein, and does it 20 times better than soybeans -- which are driving the expansion of farm land in the Amazon basin due to rising demand for meat around the world.

razib said at May 5, 2010 2:27 AM:

dude, for a moment i thought you were talking about!

XiXiDu said at May 5, 2010 4:48 AM:

Same as razib I first though, "Why would Amazon(.tld) shrink by 2050???".

Fat Man said at May 5, 2010 10:12 AM:

Thank God that the Brazilians are running the Amazon without our help. If it were the US they would be tied up in knots by lawyers. Down there, they shoot white folks from out of town who tell them how to run their lives. It fills my heart with glee.

Bruce said at May 5, 2010 1:18 PM:

"Accepted global climate models had predicted the Amazon forest would begin to "brown down" after just a month of drought and eventually collapse as the drought progressed. Instead, drought-stricken regions of the Amazon forest grew particularly vigorously during the 2005 drought, according to new research.

“Instead of ‘hunkering down’ during a drought as you might expect, the forest responded positively to drought, at least in the short term," said study author Scott R. Saleska of The University of Arizona. "It's a very interesting and surprising response." "

If you overwater a garden it is a bad thing.

It could be the Amazon is "overwatered".

PacRim Jim said at May 5, 2010 10:49 PM:

Evolution is evil!

frost said at May 13, 2010 7:58 AM:

Large portions of the Amazon were cleared and farmed in pre-Columbian times:

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