“At current rates of deforestation, rainforests will vanish altogether in a century. Stopping climate change will remain an elusive goal unless poor nations are helped to preserve them.”
So says an article in the Guardian newspaper earlier this year, which reveals that humans are destroying rainforests so quickly that they could all be gone within the next 100 years.
Scary rainforest statistics
Every year an area of rainforest the size of England and Wales is cut down. The past four decades have seen an area the size of Europe destroyed. Half the world’s rainforests have been cut down in the last 100 years. If we carry on like this, they will vanish completely in a century’s time. And, if the scientists are right, that will prove catastrophic for the climate, and therefore for the human race.
Without forest cover CO2 lingers in the atmosphere and traps solar radiation, heating the planet and powering climate change. 12% or so of human-led emissions currently come from deforestation, mostly in tropical countries. The more trees are felled, the greater risk of runaway climate change. Our chances of slowing climate change becomes slimmer by the day and our chances of stopping it in its tracks are already vanishingly small.
Conservation isn’t just the right thing to do – It’s essential
All this means that conserving forests isn’t just a good thing to do, the decent thing, a choice we can make. It’s absolutely critical to long term human survival. It sounds scary, and it is scary. But it’s nothing new. We have long known that deforestation will probably send the planet into an uncontrollable climate change spin, leaving billions of people starving or flooded out, and countless climate refugees driven from their homelands.
Will the climate change penny finally drop?
It’s a dark message. Will governments, commerce and ordinary people finally stand up to preserve the vast forests that every one of us ultimately depends on for survival? Or will we just carry on as we are? Sadly it looks like runaway deforestation is still the name of the game. Greed still wins out over long-term thinking. And our job, as a rainforest conservation charity and pressure group, is more important than ever.