This is what’s happening to the Amazon, according to NASA


(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sean Fleming, Senior Writer, Formative Content

Human activity is drying out the air above the Amazon, according to a new study, raising fears the planet’s biggest and most biodiverse rainforest will soon be unable to sustain itself.

Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California analyzed atmospheric moisture levels over the Amazon going back two decades. They found a significant drop over time, with forest trees requiring more water to cool down – water that can’t be provided by the atmosphere or the forest soil.

Less moisture in the atmosphere makes forest ecosystems increasingly vulnerable to fires and drought, which reduces biodiversity and threatens the forest’s future.

“In comparing this trend to data from models that estimate climate variability over thousands of years, we determined that the change in atmospheric aridity is well beyond what would be expected from natural climate variability,” said Armineh Barkhordarian, the study’s lead author – suggesting humans are the catalyst of the problem.

Tree clearance

Rainforests like the Amazon help slow the effects of climate change by acting as a vast sponge, absorbing harmful carbon dioxide from the planet’s atmosphere, and in turn, keeping temperatures down and slowing the impact of climate change. But the forest’s ability to decarbonize is being undermined by deforestation.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon from 2004 to 2018
Image: Statista

Brazil is responsible for approximately half of the Amazon’s deforestation, and rising, according to WWF figures. Countries like Bolivia and Peru are also experiencing increases.

Government policies in Brazil, such as stricter enforcement of laws restricting forest clearances and the growth of private sector initiatives, have helped reduce the soaring deforestation of the early 2000s. However, restrictions have since been relaxed.

Human logging activity and fires set intentionally to clear land for ranching or agriculture have laid waste vast tracts of Amazon tree canopy in recent decades, too.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about deforestation?

Halting deforestation is essential to avoiding the worst effects of global climate change.

The destruction of forests creates almost as much greenhouse gas emissions as global road travel, and yet it continues at an alarming rate.

In 2012, we brought together more than 150 partners working in Latin America, West Africa, Central Africa and South-East Asia – to establish the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020: a global public-private partnership to facilitate investment in systemic change.

The Alliance, made up of businesses, governments, civil society, indigenous people, communities and international organizations, helps producers, traders and buyers of commodities often blamed for causing deforestation to achieve deforestation-free supply chains.

The Commodities and Forests Agenda 2020, summarizes the areas in which the most urgent action is needed to eliminate deforestation from global agricultural supply chains.

The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 is gaining ground on tackling deforestation linked to the production of four commodities: palm oil, beef, soy, and pulp and paper.

Get in touch to join our mission to halt to deforestation.

A heavy price

When forest trees are felled or set ablaze, there are fewer to soak up carbon from the atmosphere. Meanwhile, carbon stored in the trees is released, exacerbating climate change. Over time, this process turns forests from carbon sponges into CO2 emitters.

With loss of animal habitats and biodiversity included, deforestation comes with a heavy environmental price tag.

The planet loses around 18.7 million acres of forest each year, the equivalent of 27 soccer fields each minute. But this trend can be reversed.

In Costa Rica, decades of deforestation saw almost two-thirds of the nation’s forest cover disappear, and by 1983 just 26% remained.

Since then, major policy changes have brought the country’s forests back to life. Government initiatives were put in place to restrict logging permits, pay landowners who conserve their land and encourage overseas investment in eco-tourism. Today, forests cover more than half of the country, which has committed to fully decarbonizing by 2050.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils in Dubai, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Costa Rica’s Minister for Environment and Energy, revealed that his secret weapon for tackling climate change is… trees.

The planet has used this natural resource to regulate the atmosphere for millennia, so there is hope for our rainforests.


the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Asia’s plastic problem is choking the world’s oceans. Here’s how to fix it

Resolving banks with depositors’ money?

How I met the Panda Woman

Pesticides: MEPs propose blueprint to improve EU approval procedure

80 adolescents a day will still die of AIDS by 2030, despite slowdown in epidemic

UN genocide adviser welcomes historic conviction of former Khmer Rouge leaders

Job vacancy data reveal better prospects for Britain, stagnation in Eurozone

How biotechnology is evolving in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Eurozone’s credibility rock solid

Countries violate rights over climate change, argue youth activists in landmark UN complaint

A shipping industry leader explains how to keep supply chains moving amid a pandemic

Haiti stands ‘at the crossroads’ between peacekeeping, development – Bachelet urges strengthened ‘human rights protection’

The European Parliament launches a website on European election results

Each for Equal is the women’s day theme – these maps of the world show how far we have to go

Digital Single Market: Survey shows Europeans are well aware of rules against unjustified geo-blocking

RescEU: MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

‘Dire consequences’ for a million children in the Middle East, North Africa, as funding dwindles

To meet development goals, UN agriculture agency ‘cannot only focus on tackling hunger anymore’

In the age of the tourism backlash, we need ‘destination stewards’

Banks must take bold action to fight climate change. This is how they can do it

At Davos, UN chief urges ‘big emitters’ to take climate action

A Sting Exclusive: Young people are right about climate change; it’s time to listen

Juncker’s Investment Plan in desperate need for trust and funds from public and private investors

The US and EU decisively oppose Erdogan’s plans for Turkey and beyond

Myanmar willing to repatriate ‘verified returnees’ from Bangladesh

Hardened creditors drive Greece to dire straits; Tsipras desperate for an agreement

Nuclear test ban treaty critical to global collective security – UN chief

UN ‘prioritizing needs’, ramping up aid, as Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas

End ‘cycle of violence’ in Gaza, UN deputy chief tells forum on Palestine

MEPs adopted measures to reconcile work and family life

The Cold War had an unintended side effect: It created a European wildlife paradise

Africa-Europe Alliance: two new financial guarantees under the EU External Investment Plan

EU elections 2019: Trump’s share in the support of populism

1.4 million refugees set to need urgent resettlement in 2020: UNHCR

International Women’s Day 2019: more equality, but change is too slow

US – Russia bargain on Syria, Ukraine but EU kept out

Black Panther’s ‘General Okoye’ joins the fight against gender-based violence

UN welcomes progress in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia naming dispute

Resiliency is the key to strong investments in a chaotic world

Addressing the consequences of digitalisation in the Russia & CIS region

Can We(esterners) ever understand (the) Chinese

Does the West reserve the fate of Libya and Syria for others? How does this relate to the EU’s Neighborhood Policy?

AI-powered automation will have an ethnic bias

5 rules for making employers and employees trust each other again

“Let hope be the antidote to fear” – Today’s WHO briefing and other key Coronavirus updates, tips and tools

‘World’s deadliest sea crossing’ claimed six lives a day in 2018: UN refugee agency

The race for Driverless vehicles: where is the industry heading?

A Sting Exclusive: “Delivering on the Environmental Dimension of the new Sustainable Development Agenda”, Ulf Björnholm underscores from UNEP Brussels

Four key challenges for cybersecurity leaders

Knowledge management and entrepreneurship: short term vs. long term perspective

OECD welcomes French plans to increase and better target foreign aid

Digital technology helped create the skills gap. Here’s how it can help close it

This cheap, 700-year old solution could change billions of lives

ECB bets billions on Eurozone’s economic recovery

UN calls for shipping ‘propulsion revolution’ to avoid ‘environmental disaster’

Who will secure Lithuania?

Anti-vaccination: a private choice leading to collective outcomes

Mass measles vaccination campaign begins in Ebola-hit DR Congo province

How do we go about improving mental health in the community and reducing suicide rates in the 15-29 age group?

Youth unemployment: think out of the box

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s