May 25, 2013
Amazon Deforestation To Cut Rain, Crop Production

Continued deforestation will actually cut total agricultural production in the Amazon area of Brazil.

The researchers used model simulations to assess how the agricultural yield of the Amazon would be affected under two different land-use scenarios: a business-as-usual scenario where recent deforestation trends continue and new protected areas are not created; and a governance scenario which assumes Brazilian environmental legislation is implemented.

The massive global tragedy of the commons is going to cause some big problems in the 21st century.

They predict that by 2050, a decrease in precipitation caused by deforestation in the Amazon will reduce pasture productivity by 30 percent in the governance scenario and by 34 percent in the business-as-usual scenario.

Furthermore, increasing temperatures could cause a reduction in soybean yield by 24 percent in a governance scenario and by 28 percent under a business-as-usual scenario.

Water evaporates from trees, goes up into the sky, comes back down again into the forests and keeps cycling.

Asian industrialization is raising living standards of billions of people and increasing the buying power for beef. The rising demand for beef drives rising demand for soy which drives deforestation to plant soy. Plus, land is cleared to provide cattle grazing areas.

Agricultural scientists helped lay the ground work for rain forest destruction. Brazilian scientists developed soy strains that can grow in warmer weather (warmer than the northern plains soy growing regions in the United States). The warm weather soy increased the returns on rain forest destruction. I am currently reading Ramez Naam's The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet. A very informative book. But only a quarter thru the book I'm not sold yet. Reports like the one above show how technological advances often speed bad trends and make me less optimistic.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2013 May 25 09:30 PM 

Sergey Kurdakov said at May 26, 2013 4:09 PM:

the obvious solution given that a) there is now good way to introduce genes ( ) b) it is now possible to sequence relatively cheaply a lot of crops for genes

is to introduce desired proteins from different plants to high output crops ( corn/potato etc ) and replace relatively low yielding soy as an animal feed.

at least genetic engineered plants is not a news, so given new opportunities, this way should be tried.

another way is to produce artificial meat - this solution is real, albeit not very practical for now, but it can become better in few years.

destructure said at May 26, 2013 7:25 PM:

The UN has been pushing insect farming. That may sound silly but it makes a lot of sense. It takes 13kg of vegetable matter to produce 1kg of beef. But it only takes 1.5-2kg of fodder to produce 1kg of meat from a cricket, locust or beetle with a fraction of the CO2 emissions. Plus, they're very rich in protein and vitamins so you don't have to eat as much to survive. That means insect farming is almost 10 times as efficient as animal farming. So the whole malthusian dilemma is a non issue.

SOBL1 said at June 4, 2013 6:00 AM:

Good thing America placed so many federal forest lands off limits to forestry firms and regulated the hell out of the logging firms. We outsourced our deforestation and are destroying the rain forests that they used to tell me to preserve as a kid.

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