India-Sized Forests to Disappear by 2050

India-Sized Forests to Disappear by 2050India-Sized Forests to Disappear by 2050

Tropical forests covering an area nearly the size of India are set to be destroyed in the next 35 years, a faster rate of deforestation than previously thought, a study warned on Monday.

The Washington-based Center for Global Development, using satellite imagery and data from 100 countries, predicted 289 million hectares of tropical forests would be felled by 2050.

The results will have dangerous implications for accelerating climate change, the center’s study was cited by Reuters.

Deforestation contributes to climate change, as forests store carbon while acting as a filter taking the heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas out of the atmosphere.

“If current trends continue, tropical deforestation will add 169 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2050, the equivalent of running 44,000 coal-fired power plants for a year,” the study’s lead author said.

“Reducing tropical deforestation is a cheap way to fight climate change,” environmental economist Jonah Busch added.

He recommended taxing carbon emissions to push countries to protect their forests.

According to a separate study published earlier this year by NASA, tropical forests are absorbing carbon dioxide at a far higher rate than previously thought, making them an invaluable resource in curbing global warming.

United Nations climate change experts estimate that the world can only burn one trillion tons of carbon to keep global temperature rises below 2 degrees, the maximum possible increase to avert catastrophic climate change.

“If trends continue, the amount of carbon burned as a result of clearing tropical forests is equal to roughly one-sixth of the entire global carbon dioxide allotment,” Busch said.

“The biggest driver of tropical deforestation by far is industrial agriculture to produce globally-traded commodities, including soy and palm oil.”

The study predicted the rate of deforestation will climb through 2020 and 2030, and accelerate around the year 2040 if changes are not made.

There have been some success stories where countries reduced tropical deforestation without compromising economic growth or food production, the study said.

Brazil decreased deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by 80 percent over a decade through the use of satellite monitoring and increased law enforcement, even as cattle and soy production rose, the study said.

The study by the Center for Global Development follows another report from the University of Leeds, published on Friday in Science, warns of a devastating future for forests, which will exist only in a “simplified” state by 2100 if climate change is not aggressively addressed, eNews Park Forest reported.

“Earth has lost 100 million hectares of tropical forest over the last 30 years, mostly to agricultural developments,” lead researcher Simon Lewis said last week. “Few people think about how intertwined with tropical forests we all are.”