Trees are being felled at an alarming rate and our ecosystems are struggling to cope with the changes. Deforestation on such a large scale harms the homes of all the organisms cohabiting in the same area as well as also contributing to climate change.
So it is important that we all know what the effects of cutting down forests will have on us in the future to make us more conscious of excessive use of paper in the present. Here then is a summary of 5 reasons with a supporting infographic below as to why we should all start using paper more sparingly:
1) Cutting down trees release more CO2 than you think
Which contributes the most CO2 to the atmosphere: road vehicles or deforestation? If you answered road vehicles, I can understand as this is a fact that shocked me too. However by most accounts of CO2 emission records deforestation releases more CO2 than road vehicles. Hence whereas cars and trucks emit 14% of all carbon emissions, deforestation contributes to 15% of humanity’s collective carbon footprint. This is because when trees are felled they release the CO2 that they were storing up inside of them when they are cut open.
2) Cutting down trees could cause droughts
The destruction of vegetation, plants and forestry will have an irreversible impact on the weather. For instance trees in the Amazon rainforest take up moisture from the soil and transpire it into the surrounding atmosphere. In fact, trees are responsible for “biotically pumping” 1000 litres of water a day. Moreover, on the whole the entire Amazon rainforest pumps around 20 billion tons of water into the atmosphere everyday. The Amazon rainforest like many other forests is therefore responsible for a lot of the water movements inland, so without the forests inland landlocked countries could be more prone to drought.
3) The scale of destruction
An area the size of Mexico is lost every 15 years due to deforestation and even though every year 5 billion trees are replanted, this does not replenish the 15 billion trees that are destroyed. Some of the worst offending countries that are using up the most paper do not have the biggest national populations. Thus whereas the US only accounts for 5% of the global population, the US still uses around a third of all the paper that is produced.
4) Forests are needed to absorb CO2
Forests were noted to absorb around 40% of the world’s CO2 emissions back in 2011. Hence trees, from the boreal forests to the tropical rainforests, absorbed around 8.8 billion tonnes of CO2 per day. However everyday we are losing more and more trees through deforestation so that means that the percentage of CO2 being absorbed is depreciating. Moreover deforestation is predicted to release 10.8 billion tonnes of CO2 back into the atmosphere every year and road vehicles release 28 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. So the forest already cannot absorb all the additional CO2, regardless of the fact the forest is also shrinking at an alarming rate.
5) How deforestation affects the inhabitants of the forest
The forest is home to millions of different species of animals all who depend on the existence of the forest for their survival. In fact, 80% of the Earth’s land animals live in the forest so the majority of land animals will be affected by deforestation. The forest’s canopy also blocks out the harmful rays of the sun so that the plants and animals under the canopy do not get scorched. In addition the canopy also traps enough heat inside the forest at night so it is not too cold for the plants and animals to survive below. So if the forest goes then the plants and animals will have nowhere to live and will likely die because they are overexposed to the natural elements.