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.