Land and oceans currently absorb 50% of the CO2 created by human activity. Trees and forests are a powerful force for climate mitigation. As more forests are cleared for agriculture — mainly to grow soy, raise cattle and produce palm oil — greenhouse gas emissions increase as a byproduct of nitrogen fertilizer and methane from cattle and sheep. Additionally, deforestation eliminates trees which are “breathing in” CO2 and “breathing out” moisture. Cattle ranching and soy bean farming in the Amazon, for example, account for 80% of deforestation there, and the raging fires during President Bolsonaro’s first year in office in 2019, are creating a climate and a humanitarian crisis.
In the U.S., millions of acres of land have been opened to drilling and mining due to rollbacks by the Trump administration. A 2018 federal report found that about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US come from fossil fuel extraction on federal land. A timeline of Trump’s anti-public lands crusade is documented at Outside.
In June 2020, came data — from the University of Maryland — suggesting that we lost a football field of primary forest every six seconds in 2019, making our loss 2.8% higher than the year before.
In September, 2020, a new danger was reported. As trees grow faster in warmer conditions, taking up and storing more carbon dioxide as they grow, they also die faster. This grew out of a report published in the journal Science in May, 2020 that human felling of trees had cut forest area by 12% since 1900.
And, then there is permafrost…how climate change will affect it and how it will affect climate change...