Global Warming and the Impacts of Deforestation
- Every minute a forest the size of twenty football fields or an area equivalent to three times the size of Denmark are cut down. Global forest replacement currently is occurring at half the rate of global deforestation. At this current rate forests globally will shrink to just 10% of their cover by 2030.
- Forest ecosystems have entirely disappeared in 25 countries across the planet. An additional 29 countries have seen their forests decrease by 90%.
- Forest cover in western Oregon has shrunk by over half a million acres since the turn of the 21rst century. Despite laws governing replanting efforts and industry claims, seedlings cannot grow as fast as mature trees are being cut. Some watersheds have lost as much as 42% of their forest cover.
- Globally current species extinction rates connected to habitat loss i.e., natural forest cover is 10,000 times higher than historical averages. Current estimates calculate a loss of around 100,000 species every year or about 1 species every 5 minutes.
Deforestation, Climate Change, and Severe Weather
- The global record high temperatures of 2014, driven by human activities, exacerbated the California 2012-14 drought by 36% making it the worst recorded drought in the past 1,200 years.
- From 1975 to 2004, global hurricane data revealed that Category 4 and 5 hurricanes have almost doubled in number, from 50 every 5 years in the 1970’s, to almost 90 every 5 years in the 2000’s. The number of the weakest storms decreased over this period.
- Since 2000, over 1 million people have died from natural disasters with the cost of damage estimated at over 1.7 trillion dollars.
The role of forests in sequestering carbon
- One large tree can capture and filter 36,500 gallons of water per year. More than half of U.S. drinking water originates in forests.
- Average interception of rainfall by a forest canopy ranges from 10-40% depending upon species, time of year, and precipitation rates per storm event. Forests significantly reduce erosion from wind and water and are key in the prevention of water-related disasters, i.e. landslides and flooding.
- A study published in the journal Science found that replanting saplings on the Earth’s deforested areas, essentially expanding global forest cover by one-third would remove 205 billion metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere. That’s two-thirds of the roughly 300 billion metric tons that have been emitted since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution
Rising Temperatures, Declining Glaciers, and Rising Sea Levels
- Greenhouse gases are now 43% stronger than in 1990
- July 2019 was.the hottest month on record.
- The last consecutive four years have been the hottest years on record.
- Greenhouse gases are at their highest level now than at any time in the past 800,000 years.
- Glaciers have continued to melt at concerning rates for the past 30 years. Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet released enough water to raise global sea levels by 0.2 inches.
- Sea levels have risen to record levels for the past seven consecutive years.
- By 2050 sea levels are expected to rise between one and 2.3 feet as glaciers melt.