Scientific American identifies deforestation as having an “extreme effect on global warming,” and that deforestation adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than “the total of all the cars and trucks on the world’s roads.”
CO2 from deforestation exceeds that from all the world’s cars and trucks.
Conserving forests is critical because deforestation is a triple-threat:
1) We lose our best weapon at keeping excess carbon out of the atmosphere.
2) More emissions enter the atmosphere because felled trees release their stored carbon when they are burned to make way for industrial-scale agriculture.
3) What most often replaces the now-vanished forest is livestock and crops like palm oil which emit large amounts of even more greenhouse gases.
When humans cut down trees, not only are we destroying our best ally in the fight against climate change, we are also adding CO2 directly into the atmosphere.
Trees are about half carbon. Photosynthesis uses energy from the sun to turn the carbon dioxide in the air into molecules that become the building blocks of the tree itself. Those molecules are organic substances like lignin, which is found in the cell walls of vascular plants and trees to give them rigidity so they can grow tall and branch out to collect more sunlight. When forests are cut down, their decomposition sends carbon back into the atmosphere as CO2, exacerbating climate change. When they are protected, their carbon is safely stored for millennia. This is especially true for large, intact forests as they store 3X the carbon of fragmented forests.
You can’t do anything about the carbon coming from the millions of cars and trucks on the road.
There is little you can do about the carbon coming from the transportation sector of the economy. Nor can you have much effect on emissions from industry or agriculture. Only legislation through the political process and your personal choices about what products you buy and the cars you drive can do that.
Nevertheless, you can do something meaningful about deforestation. If you want to personally have a large effect on CO2 levels, you can help store tremendous amounts of carbon in the forest reserves that Nature & Culture creates and protects.
If you want to make a positive difference for the climate, then conserve and expand the world’s forests.
Conserving forests at large scale satisfies our individual moral responsibility to counter climate change.
With help from our donors, Nature & Culture has focused on creating and protecting big reserves that contain enormous quantities of carbon. By conserving forests, we preserve their carbon and prevent the release of many millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. This is known as “carbon sequestration,” and it’s a critical and irreplaceable service that forests provide to our planet. To date, Nature & Culture has sequestered approximately 1.8 billion tons of carbon.