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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Escalating the climate emergency

The scale of the climate crisis has just increased massively, with news that the destruction of the world’s largest tropical rainforest in November more than doubled the same period last year.

According to the Guardian, preliminary government data has revealed that deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon jumped to the highest level for the month of November since record-keeping began in 2015. The country’s space research agency INPE found that 563 square kilometres of the world’s largest tropical rainforest were destroyed in November, which is more than double the area in the same month last year.

The paper says that would bring total deforestation for the period from January to November to 8,934 square kilometres, 83% more than in the same period in 2018 and an area almost the size of Puerto Rico:

Deforestation usually slows around November and December during the Amazon region’s rainy season. The number for last month was unusually high.

Researchers and environmentalists blame right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro for emboldening ranchers and loggers by calling for the Amazon to be developed and for weakening the environmental agency called Ibama. Bolsonaro and environment minister Ricardo Salles have said previous governments played a role in deforestation’s increase, saying policies including budget cuts at agencies like Ibama were in place well before the new government took office on 1 January.

Brazil’s environment ministry had no immediate comment on Friday on the new data for November.

The data released by the space research agency was collected through a system that publishes alerts on fires and other types of developments affecting the rainforest. The numbers are not considered official deforestation data. That comes from a different system called PRODES.

PRODES numbers released last month showed deforestation rose to its highest in over a decade this year, jumping 30% from 2018 to 9,762 square kilometres.

Reducing emissions is one thing, but if we keep destroying the earth's ability to absorb CO2 then we are fighting a losing battle.
Protecting the "world’s largest tropical rainforest" is of vital importance, but to what extent does the Amazon rainforest contribute to world net oxygen production? Some reports say the Amazon rainforest acts as the world's lungs producing approximately 20 percent of the world’s oxygen - of course this is a nonsense. Photosynthetic organisms in the sea produce way more O2 than the Amazon rainforest. The figure for the rainforest is approx. 6% and humans would not suffer an O2 issue even if the rainforest totally disappeared. Also, don't forget that the rainforest also uses O2 to respire – yes, believe it or not, trees need O2.
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