Week 5 Blog Post

The Environmental Protection Agency defines deforestation as “those practices or processes that result in the conversion of forested lands for non-forest uses” including agricultural, commercial, and housing.  Deforestation directly contributes to increasing carbon dioxide in two ways.  The first from concentrations from the burning or decomposition of the wood releasing  carbon dioxide.  And second by the aftermath of the tree removal resulting in fewer trees to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the process of photosynthesis.  Deforestation also results is disruption the delicate balance of the world’s ecosystem.  As much as 70 percent of the world’s planet and animal species live in forests and cannot survive without their habitat.  They are declining at a rate of 2 percent of their mass a year, and may be reduced by as much as 25 percent of their original mass by the end of the 21st century.  (National Geographic)  In October 2015 researchers warned  that 57% of the 15,000 Amazonian tree species including Brazil nut, wild cacao and açai, face extinction at current rates of land clearance.  (The Guardian)  

In late November 2015 reports that deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon had increased by 16 percent, covering an area of more than 7 times the territory of New York City.  A second acceleration of deforestation in the past 3 years following a successful decade of reduction in deforestation of the Amazon.  Environmentalists argue the acceleration was result of lax government deforestation sanctions including the  “Forest Code; dams, roads and other infrastructure projects; the growing strength of the agricultural lobby; and the faltering economy, which is driving more people to illegally log timber and clear land for cattle and crops”.     The current policies to protect the Amazon in Brazil including financial penalties, high tech monitoring, and boots on the ground efforts appear to be softly enforced and have yielded poor deterrence results.  One could argue that the pressure of the hosting the 2016 Rio Olympics may have contributed to the increase in deforestation as the pressure increased for Brazil to provide proper housing and venues for an event that would draw world wide attention. 

With cases like Brazil I think there needs to be pressure from the international community to successfully uphold the sanctions in place to protect the Amazon from deforestation and help provide supportive resources.  Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon and forests around the world will have a significant negative global impact.  The ramifications of single state failure to implement protective measures like in the case of Brazil will have a global impact ,  therefore the  international community has a responsibility to take more serious action now to help lessen the already massive environmental impact deforestation has caused around the world.


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