The Impact of Deforestation in Numbers
Sometimes, it can be a little difficult to understand abstract concepts such as the impact of deforestation on the planet. Numbers can bring greater clarity to the issue and highlight just what an absolute threat deforestation is to our future well-being.
To begin with, human activities between 1850 and 1999 have increased the average global temperatures by 0.8°C. This has resulted in the increase of global carbon dioxide (CO2) content to 1.01 gigatonnes (Gt), a level last seen about 3.5 million years ago. The most obvious effect seen from this is the 30% increase in the acidification of our oceans and increased instances of heat waves.
In the 15-year period between 2000 and 2015, another 0.5Gt of CO2 has been released to the atmosphere, raising average global temperature by 1.5°C. The effects from this have been more pronounced. The world’s sea level is expected to increase by 0.85m by 2100, elevated ocean temperature will halt the gmain-rwth of coral reefs (which is an entire ecosystem of its own) and crop yields with drop by 7% due to erratic weather.
Now, the combined present size of forests (which covers 30% of the world’s surface area) is capable of absorbing another 0.335Gt of CO2, but this will be used up by 2024. At that stage, sea level is projected to rise by 1.04m by 2100. This would dmain-rwn low-lying cities like Amsterdam, guarantee a heatwave every summer, reduce crop yields by 20% and increase flooding by 13%. Fun fact: Greenland would also start to melt.
But this is not the worst case scenario. Existing global underground and subterranean fossil fuel reserves, once used, will release about 2.755Gt of CO2 into the atmosphere. This will lead to an increase of up to 6°C in global temperature, which would start the melting of permafrost in the Artic and Siberia and trigger the release of methane from the ocean floor (which will kill a huge number of animals in the sea). Sea level will increase by 1.43m, which would dmain-rwn cities like New York and Bangkok, and partially submerge London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Tokyo. Mediterranean and Iberian Peninsula countries like Spain, Italy and Greece would see the emergence of deserts, food crop yields will drop by about half, and flooding will increase by up to 42%.
Have you ever seen Kevin Costner’s 1995 blockbuster, Waterworld? If the current rate of deforestation is left unchecked, we could be looking at something very similar in a few hundred years – with a lot less fish.