Our Earth, our home, is constantly undergoing hundreds of thousands of chemical reactions every day. One of the most important among these reactions, is the balance and emission of carbon dioxide from our forests. Forests have actually adapted to being able to maintain the perfect amount of carbon dioxide that is necessary to maintain our atmosphere. Forests even capture the extra carbon generated by human activity to further help balance the atmosphere. Forests are often referred to as, “the lungs of the Earth” because the carbon dioxide they capture turns into the oxygen we need to live through chemical processes. They also play a role in managing clouds, wind, humidity, air quality, and rainfall patterns (Conservation International, 1). Needless to say, our forests are important. But they are under attack. Deforestation is clearing Earth’s forest on a massive scale, resulting in damage to the quality of land. This occurs because of mass production or commercial reasons. During the process, habitats and homes for animals are completely wiped out and destroyed. Forest conservation is an important practice that we need to implement and take more seriously before we start to see and feel some serious effects.
The consequences of deforestation are very dangerous. Referring back to our atmosphere and carbon dioxide, when forests are cleared, they emit a huge amount of carbon dioxide without going through any balancing process. This affects our atmosphere and climate change. Deforestation actually accounts 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans (Conservation International, 2). Animal species are also in danger as a result of “empty forests”. These empty forests have trees but no animals! This is because of overexploitation and uncontrolled hunting. Animals are at risk of extinction, tree species lose seed dispersal, and other problems. 50% of tropical protected areas may be “empty”. Losing our forests has temporary commercial and manufacturing perks for some, but overall, we need them. We need our forests to conserve the nature of our Earth.
- Taking a look at this from a more tangible perspective, about 36 football fields worth of trees are lost every minute (Live Science, 3). That’s 120 yards long, and 53 yards wide. At this rate, how many football fields worth of deforestation will occur by the end of 1 month?
By using conversion factors, we can see that the results of this math problem are drastic. Given that our Earth is 30% forest coverage, 1 month of deforestation pushes a huge dent in the forest population. Think of all the animals that become victims of death, lose their homes, or become in danger of being extinct. That’s also a massive amount of carbon dioxide that’s being blown out into the atmosphere every day. This rate of deforestation also takes away our natural air filtration system: the chemical process when carbon dioxide is returned back to us by the trees as oxygen.
Here’s a summary of important statistics:
- 11% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation
- 50% of tropical protected forests may be “empty”
- 36 football fields of trees are destroyed every minute
- 30% of earth is covered by forests
It is important to recognize the benefits that our forests provide us with. Destroying our forests through deforestation is the primary source used to gain more land for housing and urbanization, to harvest materials for commercial purposes, and create ingredients for highly prized consumer products (Live Science, 3). It would be a good idea to invest some more time in researching alternate ways to accomplish these goals rather than immediately turning to deforestation. Forest conservation is something that we need to gain more motivation in researching and practicing in order to maintain our habitats.
“Deforestation Facts, Deforestation Information, Effects of Deforestation – National Geographic.” Deforestation Facts. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
“Conservation International.” Forests- Conservation. Conservation International, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
Bradford, By Alina. “Deforestation: Facts, Causes & Effects.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 04 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.