The Burning Truth about the Amazon Forest.


Amazon Rainforest set on fire.

Beck Gilliland

     For years, the Amazon rainforest was known as the “lungs of the earth.” Now, as climate change becomes more and more of a problem each year, the even bigger news is that the Amazon rainforest is now producing more greenhouse gasses than it can take in. “While the forest may have been the Earth’s best defense against global warming in the past, it is now contributing to the problem” says UNILAD.

According to Liz Kimbrough, reporting for Mongabay in Smithsonian Magazine: “The sobering findings appear in a new study published earlier this month in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change that calculates, for the first time, the net emissions of greenhouse gases from both human and natural sources in the Amazon Basin.” According to National Geographic, the Amazon was “long considered to be a bulwark against climate change because of its capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, a new study suggests rising temperatures, increasing drought and rampant deforestation have likely overwhelmed the Amazon’s ability to absorb more greenhouse gases than it emits.”

     Years of being overtaxed by human intervention has caused an increase in the emissions of greenhouse gasses. Logging to graze cattle not only removes the trees that take in the carbon dioxide, but it also compacts the soil and dries wetlands, which prevents the soils ability to hold the carbon. Without the ability to hold the carbon anymore, it then releases back into the atmosphere. The effects of the controlled burning “release black carbon, small particles of soot that absorb sunlight and increase warmth. Deforestation can alter rainfall patterns, further drying and heating the forest,” says a recent National Geographic study.

     It is not too late to reverse and save the Amazon’s key role in supporting to life. Kristofer Covey from National Geographic says that to reverse the damage done to this natural treasure is to cease deforestation and curbing the global use of fossil fuels. So, if action is taken now, we may be able to restore this ecological powerhouse to its former glory.

If you’d like to help save the Amazon, you can visit Amazon Watch and the Amazon Aid Foundation to help donate to the recovery of the forest.