A glimmer of hope for the Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Forest is shrinking at a fearsome rate, yet there are some glimmers of hope for the world's greatest rainforest. At COP26 in Glasgow, Brazil has, uncharacteristically, pledged to end deforestation by 2030. And with upcoming elections in 2022, the current government will either have to show political will to protect the rainforest, or a new, different government will be more likely to be chosen, and hopefully listen to indigenous communities and more rigorously protect Brazil's magnificent natural legacy.
The "Lungs of our Planet" stretches over nine countries, but most of the bad news usually comes from the Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest. Both legal and illegal logging to make room for cattle and to grow crops to feed cattle, huge wildfires (in 2019 and 2020), and polluting mining activities, are threatening the forest's ability to act as a giant organ that regulates the Earth's climate. 2021 has been a bad year, with 13,235 square kilometers of forest felled (almost half the size of Belgium), this is 22% more than previous year, and the worst since 2006. Causes are global meat and forest product consumption and a government that is famous for debilitating environment protection laws.
There are many reasons to protect the Amazon Forest, its protections will have global benefits:
- It holds 150 to 200 billion tonnes of carbon that are better not released into the atmosphere.
- It has an incredible biodiversity of plants, birds and other creatures, including soil life.
- It is rich in chemical substances that can be important in medicine, and in curbing pandemics and pests, in humans, cattle, wildlife and crops.
- The Amazon is like a sponge, it holds humidity and its disappearance will change weather patterns and the "Flying rivers" (great masses of humidity above tha Amazon Basin), make Brazil dryer, and more prone to wildfires.
There is a lot to fight for, and let's hope that the ever-growing awareness will force politicians to finally recognize the Amazon's importance for life on Earth, and that promises get fulfilled. Today, 20% of the Amazon is cleared, but there is still hope for the remaining 80% of tropical forest in Brazil.
Kraaijvanger, C. op Scientias.nl magazine: De Amazone kreeg ook in 2021 weer veel te verstouwen maar er gloort hoop: https://scientias.nl/de-amazone-kreeg-ook-in-2021-weer-veel-te-verstouwen-maar-er-gloort-hoop/.
Science Panel for the Amazon Amazon Assessment Report: 2022: https://www.theamazonwewant.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/SPA-Executive-Summary-11Mb.pdf
Kolibri: Matheus Bertelli on Pexels, https://www.pexels.com/photo/bright-tiny-hummingbird-flying-in-nature-7510476/.
Parrot: Sivakumar-B on Pexels, https://www.pexels.com/nl-nl/foto/groene-en-rode-snavelvogel-op-grijze-tak-97533/
Article by Kathelijne Bonne, geologist and soil scientist.
Good Climate News is an initiative by the Bonne sisters from Belgium, Elisabeth, Helena and Kathelijne. "We believe in the power of good news".