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Pollution & HealthEmergency? Part 5

Emergency? Part 5

Emergency? Part 5

Ending Deforestation

We give plenty of lip service describing climate change as an emergency or existential threat.  In accordance with the Climate Emergency Declaration Organization, 2336 jurisdictions around the globe have declared it to be an emergency, but we should not really acting prefer it.  There are lots of possible emergency actions.  I’m 6 that might make a major difference, are doable, but require real sacrifice and hard selections:

      1. Ending financing of fossil fuel projects
      2. Accelerating renewable siting on- and offshore
      3. Fast tracking transmission
      4. Requiring large-scale carbon capture
      5. International agreement and give attention to methane
      6. Ending deforestation

Today, it’s ending deforestation.  (Here’s Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4).

The World Resources Institute runs the Global Forest Review and Global Forest Watch, each phenomenal resources for information concerning the current state of the world’s forests.  It’s not going particularly well:

Nearly half of the forests that covered 50 percent the world’s land 10,000 years ago have since been cleared. Most forests still standing today have been degraded or fragmented; by one measure, lower than one-third of them are still intact.  We’ve got seen governments and corporations make time-bound commitments to finish deforestation, restore degraded forest landscapes, and achieve sustainable forest management. But rapid deforestation and forest degradation have continued, driven primarily by growing global demand for food, fuel, and fiber. Climate change impacts, including severe fires and recent vectors and outbreaks of forest pests and diseases, exacerbate the decline.   https://research.wri.org/gfr/global-forest-review

As we all know, forests provide many advantages.  Listed below are some, from WWF:

“Over 1.6 billion people rely upon forests for food or fuel, and a few 70 million people worldwide – including many Indigenous communities – call forests home. Forests provide us with oxygen, shelter, jobs, water, nourishment and fuel. . .

Forests also play a vital role in the worldwide water cycle, moving water across the earth by releasing water vapor and capturing rainfall. In addition they filter out pollution and chemicals, improving the standard of water available for human use. . .

[F]orests are home to over 80% of terrestrial biodiversity, including 80% of amphibians, 75% of birds and 68% of mammals. Deforestation of some tropical forests may lead to the lack of as many as 100 species a day. . .

Forests are the biggest storehouses of carbon after the oceans, as they absorb this greenhouse gas from the air and lock it away above and below ground. . . .”

(And here’s more from Scientific American).

But profit continues to trump environment, whether it’s for development or commodities.  From National Geographic:

A significant motive for deforestation is cattle ranching. China, the US, and other countries have created a consumer demand for beef, so clearing land for cattle ranching will be profitable—even when it’s illegal. The demand for pastureland, in addition to cropland for food reminiscent of soybeans, makes it difficult to guard forest resources.

Solving the deforestation problem requires multi-faceted motion, including enhanced detection of deforestation, improved and increased legal enforcement, and economic incentives for maintaining forest integrity.  One set of actions, nevertheless, would make a considerable difference, and there’s precedence.

Within the Nineteen Eighties, despite the existence of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and other laws, tuna fishing killed lots of of hundreds of dolphins.  In 1990, Earth Island Institute and the International Marine Mammal Project helped develop the Dolphin-Protected Tuna label, certifying that tuna fishing meets dolphin protection standards.  The label has been a significant success.  If the US and China and other importers of beef, soybeans, palm oil and other commodities currently promoting deforestation purchased only products certified as Forest-Protected, with clear requirements to satisfy that certification together with enforcement and surveillance, it will dramatically change the economics of deforestation.

Deforestation represents a real emergency, and one for which our response lacks sufficient urgency.  We will change that but only with commitment by importing countries.  That requires political will, which is briefly supply.  28 years of worldwide Conferences of the Parties have fallen well short.  It’s time for an emergency convening with a set of emergency actions, with response to deforestation at the highest of the list.

While the climate change emergency response needn’t be frantic, we higher get to it.


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