Deforestation – Its Impact on Climate Change and Why Is It Happening?

Written by: Kyra Phan (2AH) 

Many of us will be familiar with the concept of climate change, given its prominent effect on every society in the world, be it in the form of natural disasters such as earthquakes, or the slow decline of arable crops in recent years that will impact global food security. Countries have recognised this issue and have tried to reduce its impact via cutting down carbon emissions and pursuing cleaner energy sources, while individuals and organisations have rallied the support of millions of people for a cause to procure better lives for future generations through ensuring that the world is still habitable for many years to come. 

However, despite all these efforts, have we truly done enough? 

The causes of climate change can be attributed to 5 main factors, consisting of manufacturing goods, generating power, using transportation, producing food, and most notably, cutting down forests. 

Deforestation, which refers to the purposeful clearing or thinning of trees and forests, typically for urbanisation and agriculture purposes, is arguably the most significant cause that contributes to the worsening of climate change, given how it accounts for up to 20% of all carbon emissions. The importance of keeping our forests intact lies with the fact that trees are responsible for absorbing a significant amount of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that are released into the atmosphere through human activities. Without the presence of dense forests, the atmosphere would be more saturated with greenhouse gases which would absorb more heat, thus leading to global warming, which is considered a form of climate change. 

Credits: IUCN

Furthermore, efforts to address deforestation have been largely unsuccessful, as seen from how an average of 10 million hectares of forest were cut down each year, with countries such as Brazil being the most heavily affected. In fact, Brazil reported that more than 13 thousand square kilometres were destroyed in 2021, the highest figure reported since 2006. This was despite efforts made by international organisations such as the European Union (EU) in the form of a legislative proposal for a regulation on deforestation-free products which aimed to reduce deforestation by setting targets for commodities linked to a high risk of deforestation, such as soy, beef, palm oil or coffee.

Why Is deforestation occuring? 

Industrial agriculture is the key reason for deforestation, and accounts for approximately 85% of the clearing of forests worldwide. With the world’s population expected to increase by nearly 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, there is a need for greater food production to ensure that people are fed. However, this has subsequently led to a rise in demand for agricultural products which has resulted in the conversion of forests into land for cattle ranches and plantations. 

Credits: Mongabay 

However, there is still hope. Every action, no matter how small, is another step towards our goal to attain a world where there is still a tiny glimmer of hope in restoring and sustaining the Earth for future generations. 

One way we can help is through collaborating with and supporting the efforts of organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), while others can consider cutting back their own carbon footprints. Whether we like it or not, each generation has a critical responsibility in passing on the blazing torch of progress and life for our children. It’s our responsibility to ensure that those who will come after us will have the opportunity to lead better lives without the fear and uncertainty of what natural disaster to expect the next day, and although it may seem daunting, all it takes is a small step, and maybe, the future will be a little brighter. 

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