Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Death and Return? of Africa's Forests

The Death of Africa's Forests

Over the course of human history, the earth has managed to lose more than half its forests. Ignoring this stunning feat of human destruction, this deforestation has increased carbon emissions by 15%, destroyed much of the habitat for 70% of the earth's land animals/plants, and increased the rates of soil erosion and flooding.

The Return?
However, at recent climate talks. African countries bonded together to form the AFR100 initiative: a pledge to restore 100 million hectares (or if you have no idea how much a hectare is, 386 thousand square miles). According to Wanjira Mathai, daughter of the Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, said that "I have seen restoration in communities both large and small across Africa, but the promise of a continent-wide movement is truly inspiring."

In addition, the World Bank and other governments have set aside more than 1.5 billion in funding for this reforestation.

1. Considering the current global climate, how big of an issue do you think forestation is?
2. How do you feel about the prospects of this project?



Alton Olson said...

Deforestation has been an environmental issue for a long time, but it has been growing at a fairly constant rate when compared to exponential population growth. Climate change is obviously a major issue going into the future, but I don't think that forestation is really a solution to global warming - by itself. 15% is enormously significant, but it's not enough unless other actions to reduce emissions are taken as well. My second source explains how much emissions need to be reduced: "In order to stabilize CO2 concentrations at about 450 ppm by 2050, global emissions would have to decline by about 60% by 2050. Industrialized countries greenhouse gas emissions would have to decline by about 80% by 2050." This is in order to try to keep global warming below 2 degrees celsius (above pre-industrial levels).

Of course, forestation is a step in the right direction. Hopefully this plan works out so it can be used as an example of diplomacy and planning to fight climate change.


Rachael Howard said...

1. Considering the current global climate, how big of an issue do you think forestation is?
I think deforestation is an issue we need to watch, however I do not think it is as big of a deal as people used to think it is, as Alton said above. I found this map of forests we have today (green) and original forest cover (tan).
As you can see from the graphic, the overall deforestation isn't all too bad, other than in China and Africa. The only reason I think it is as bad as media makes us think it is is because media has made us all so aware of this issue. I mean how many times have you seen a super sad commercial on TV about animals losing their habitats due to people cutting down trees in the rain forest?
I have also found this graph about deforestation rates in Brazil, this graph clearly shows how regulated and protected these forests have become.

2. How do you feel about the prospects of this project?
I hope that this project is successful. As you can see from the map graphic above, Africa is one of the places that have lost the most forests. This plan of forestation in Africa is a step in the right direction.

TJ Bonbright said...

Deforestation is definitely an issue that has not only grown in significance lately, but also deserves attention. An increase in 15% of carbon emissions is massive, but I have to agree with Alton that forestation is the only thing that needs to be done. For example, burning coal, natural gas, and oil results in more carbon emissions than does deforestation. In order to cut down on emissions, we need to find safer and more efficient ways to generate electricity. While forestation definitely helps reduce carbon emissions, we must keep in mind that it is not the only issue which needs to be addressed.

Attempts at forestation are good indicators that people are taking the necessary steps to improve the environment. Hopefully success with this project will encourage others to undertake similar projects. The more attempts that are made to combat climate change, the better the future for all of us and generations to come.


Daniel Jun said...

Deforestation happens because of a desire for work (this work is often warmly accepted by those who need the work and money to feed their families) and because of a different nation's (or multiple nations') desire for resources.

Deforestation is not the problem that needs to be fixed. What we need is reform to create jobs for those who view cutting down the forests as their only option for employment and/or a renewable resource that won't create nasty byproducts. Nobody who has a family to provide for will prioritize the good of the environment over the good of their family.

This, of course, is not always the case. There are also times when the trees are needed to construct buildings like houses, inns, businesses, or other times when the land itself is needed for farming or housing. There are ample reasons and problems to choose from as to why deforestation is happening, and that is the real meat of the problem known as deforestation.

Deforestation isn't just the cutting down of trees; it's the byproduct of a growing human population and the desire for something, be it space, lumber, money, or food. And the problem isn't going to disappear because humanity (most likely) isn't going to disappear suddenly. These little steps towards reforestation are definitely nice to see, but they don't really solve anything.

Ryan Swan said...

Considering the human population has been polluting the globe for many years, I am not surprised by the amount of destruction humans have caused to forests. I believe that this is a major issue that needs more attention than it receives currently. Yet, deforestation isn't the only environmentally negative factor humans have on the planet. For instance, we pollute the air with massive carbon emissions from factories and transportation. So I say forestation is obviously a wonderful thing! As for the intentions of this project being carried out by AFR100, I fully support their cause. It will cost billions of dollars and many years to achieve their goal, but with help from other organizations and outside funds, this goal can be achieved. Unfortunately, as amazing AFR100's intentions seem, it is going to take a lot more than widespread forestation to undo the massive amounts of environmental damage our kind has inflicted upon the planet. I wish the best of luck to the group. They're going to need more than a green thumb to clean up that mess!

Anna Joshi said...

Deforestation is a huge problem. Aside from the fact that we are cutting down a natural defense against carbon emissions, we are forcing animals to lose their habitats consequently causing huge losses in biodiversity. Further, what many people don’t realize is that we are also potentially losing possible cures to certain diseases, since many of our medications and treatments have some of their bases in tropical rain forests.

I am fully behind the AFR100 initiative. As Wangari Maathia stated, “the promise of a continent-wide movement is truly inspiring” for it proves to the world that countries can truly come together to make a huge difference. I hope that countries across the globe will remember this project as they enter into the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 21, and create a “new international agreement on climate change, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.”


Alex Binsacca said...

As everyone else in the comments have stated previously, I too agree that deforestation is a big international problem. However, I think other people think that this problem is bigger than what it really is. For instance, the pollution in america today was not nearly as bad as the pollution during the late 40s, and early 50s. That was the reason why president Truman instated the environmental protection act. However, just this fact has been presented doesn't mean that deforestation still isn't a huge problem. If we do not keep an eye on our environment then we could slowly end up destroying the earth along with ourselves.

I am behind the goals set up by the AFR100. I think it is a wonderful thing they doing. However, agreeing with some other people in the comments I too think that more needs to be done aside from just restoring the forest. Nations as a whole must come together and cut back on their own pollution, or find a more environmentally friendly source of energy. Also, I worry about how big an affect they can truly have on the earth, because the job alone is big. Then there is what can they do after their current goal has been reached.