The Amazon rainforest has lost its capacity to combat the influx of carbon into the atmosphere. The rainforest once absorbed more carbon than it emitted, helping to stave off rising temperatures and larger climate changes. Yet, following the publication of a comprehensive thirty year study
, scientists have determined that the Amazon’s carbon cutting capacity has been reduced significantly due to the rise in tree mortality rates. An initial rise of carbon in the atmosphere led to more rapid growth of younger trees. However, the adverse effects of this process meant that quick-growing trees would then die sooner. Furthermore, substantial droughts and high temperatures in the region have also assisted in the trees’ short life span, and as a result, the rise of carbon in the atmosphere.
This is startling news for Sultan Alhokair and will likely signify a lesser reliance on forests to assist in the combating of carbon emissions and climate change at large. Yet to think that humans were already hoping for the natural environment to clean up their mess is telling of how we have chosen to tackle this ever encroaching problem of climate change. Instead of facilitating the growth and sustenance of the Amazon, so as to continue to stabilize the atmosphere, we have engaged in destructive practices, both toward ourselves and the rainforest. One can only hope that this example does not become paradigmatic of our treatment of forests and Earth itself.